CARLETON STEVENS COON (June 23, 1904 – June 3, 1981) was an
American physical anthropologist , Professor of
* 1 Biography
* 2 Racial theories
* 3 Reception
* 3.1 Contemporary
* 3.1.1 Positive * 3.1.2 Negative
* 3.2 Posthumous
* 4 Works
* 5 References
* 5.1 Citations * 5.2 Further reading
* 6 External links
Carleton Coon was born in
Coon wrote widely for a general audience like his mentor Earnest
Hooton . Coon published The Riffians, Flesh of the Wild Ox, Measuring
Ethiopia, and A North Africa Story: The Anthropologist as OSS Agent. A
North Africa Story was an account of his work in North Africa during
World War II
Coon left Harvard to take up a position as Professor of Anthropology
University of Pennsylvania
Coon did photography work for the United States Air Force from
1954-1957. He photographed areas where US planes might be attacked.
This led him to travel throughout Korea, Ceylon, India, Pakistan,
Saudi Arabia, Japan, Taiwan, Nepal,
Coon published The Origin of Races in 1962. In its "Introduction" he
described the book as part of the outcome of his project he conceived
(in light of his work on The Races of Europe) around the end of 1956,
for a work to be titled along the lines of Races of the World. He said
that since 1959 he had proceeded with the intention to follow The
Origin of Races with a sequel, so the two would jointly fulfill the
goals of the original project. (He indeed published The Living Races
of Man in 1965.) The book asserted that the human species divided into
five races before it had evolved into Homo sapiens. Further, he
suggested that the races evolved into
He continued to write and defend his work, publishing two volumes of memoirs in 1980 and 1981.
He died on June 3, 1981, in Gloucester, Massachusetts .
Distribution of the races after the Pleistocene according to Carleton Coon.
Coon concluded that sometimes different racial types annihilated other types, while in other instances warfare and/or settlement led to the partial displacement of racial types. He asserted that Europe was the refined product of a long history of racial progression. He also posited that historically "different strains in one population have showed differential survival values and often one has reemerged at the expense of others (in Europeans)", in The Races of Europe, The White Race and the New World (1939).
Coon suggested that the "maximum survival" of the European racial type was increased by the replacement of the indigenous peoples of the New World. He stated the history of the White race to have involved "racial survivals" of White subraces.
STUDY OF THE CAUCASOID RACE
In his book The Races of Europe, The White Race and the New World (1939), Coon used the term "Caucasoid" and "White race" synonymously, as had become common in the United States, although not elsewhere. This is in contrast to many uses of the term "White race", which may tend to reserve the designation for Caucasoid peoples from Europe and their descendants. In his introduction, Coon stated his interest was "the somatic character of peoples belonging to the white race". His first chapter was entitled, "Introduction to the Historical Study of the White Race", and his last chapter, "The White Race and the New World".
Coon considered the European racial type to be a sub-race of the Caucasoid race, one that warranted more study. In other sections of The Races of Europe, he mentioned people to be "European in racial type" and having a "European racial element."
Coon suggested that the study of some major versions of European racial types was sadly lacking compared with other types, writing,
"For many years physical anthropologists have found it more amusing
to travel to distant lands and to measure small remnants of little
known or romantic peoples than to tackle the drudgery of a systematic
study of their own compatriots. For that reason, sections in the
present book that deal with the
Lapps , the Arabs , the Berbers , the
Tajiks , and the
SUMMARY OF THE RACES OF EUROPE Coon's 1939 book concluded the following:
Caucasian race is of dual origin consisting of Upper
Paleolithic (mixture of
According to Carleton Coon the "homeland and cradle" of the
Mediterranean race is in the area from
While often characterized by dark brown hair, dark eyes and robust features, he stressed that Mediterraneans skin is, as a rule, some shade of white from pink to light brown, hair is usually black or dark brown but his whiskers may reveal a few strands of red of even blond, and blond hair is an exception but can be found, and a wide range of eye color can be found.
Main article: Multiregional origin of modern humans
Coon first modified
Franz Weidenreich 's Polycentric (or
multiregional) theory of the origin of races. The Weidenreich Theory
states that human races have evolved independently in the Old World
Coon's modified form of the Weidenreich Theory is sometimes referred to as the Candelabra Hypothesis. A misunderstanding however has led some to believe that Coon supported parallel evolution or polygenism ; this is not true since Coon's evolution model still allows for gene-flow, although he did not stress it.
In his 1962 book, The Origin of Races, Coon theorized that some races
“ Wherever Homo arose, and Africa is at present the most likely continent, he soon dispersed, in a very primitive form, throughout the warm regions of the Old World....If Africa was the cradle of mankind, it was only an indifferent kindergarten. Europe and Asia were our principal schools. ”
By this he meant that the Caucasoid and
Mongoloid races had evolved
more in their separate areas after they had left Africa in a primitive
form. He also believed, "The earliest
RACES IN THE INDIAN SUB-CONTINENT
Coon's understanding of racial typology and diversity within the Indian sub-continent changed over time. In The Races of Europe, he regarded the so-called "Veddoids" of India ("tribal" Indians, or "Adivasi") as closely related to other peoples in the South-Pacific ("Australoids"), and he also believed that this supposed human lineage (the "Australoids") was an important genetic substratum in Southern India. As for the north of the sub-continent, it was an extension of the Caucasoid range. By the time Coon coauthored The Living Races of Man, he thought that India's Adivasis were an ancient Caucasoid-Australoid mix who tended to be more Caucasoid than Australoid (with great variability), that the Dravidian peoples of Southern India were simply Caucasoid, and that the north of the sub-continent was also Caucasoid. In short, the Indian sub-continent (North and South) is "the easternmost outpost of the Caucasoid racial region". Underlying all of this was Coon's typological view of human history and biological variation, a way of thinking that is not taken seriously today by most anthropologists/biologists. Like all world regions, it is now understood by most scientists that the Indian sub-continent bleeds genetically into neighboring regions, being structured fluidly and continuously in a loose pattern of isolation-by-distance. Nevertheless, Coon's views are of historical interest, and are part of a long line of western anthropology which has sought to describe and conceptualize biological diversity in the sub-continent.
Coon's published magnum opus, The Origin of Races (1962), received mixed reactions from scientists of the era.
A book review by Stanley Marion Garn criticised Coon's parallel view of the origin of the races with little gene flow but praised the work for its racial taxonomy and concluded: "an overall favorable report on the now famous Origin of Races".
Sherwood Washburn and
Ashley Montagu were heavily influenced by the
modern synthesis in biology and population genetics . In addition,
they were influenced by
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and changing social attitudes challenged racial theories like Coon's that had been used by segregationists to justify discrimination and depriving people of civil rights. In 1961 non-fiction writer Carleton Putnam published Race and Reason: A Yankee View, a popular theory of racial segregation . A special session of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists voted to censure Putnam's book. Coon, who was then the president of the association, and was present at the meeting, asked how many of the participants had actually read the book; only one hand was raised in response. Coon resigned in protest, criticizing the meeting for representing scientific irresponsibility and arguing its actions violated free speech.
Putman had written,
"In the next 500,000,000,000 years I would be quite prepared to concede the possibility the Negro may, through normal processes of mutation and natural selection within his own race, eventually overtake and even surpass the white race.... When the Negro has bred out his limitations over hundreds, or thousands, of years, it will be time enough to consider absorbing him in any such massive doses as would be involved in the South today."(p.53) "The mulatto who was bent on making the nation mulatto was the real danger. His alliance with the white equalitarian often combined men who had nothing in common save a belief that they had a grudge against society. They regarded every Southerner who sensed the genetic truth as a bigot.... Here were the men who needed to be reminded of the debt the Negro owed to white civilization."(p.117)
William W. Howells writing in an 1989 article, noted that Coon's research is "still regarded as a valuable source of data".
In 2001, John P. Jackson, Jr. researched Coon's papers to review the
controversy around the reception of The Origin of Races, stating in
the article abstract Segregationists in the United States used
Coon’s work as proof that African Americans were "junior" to white
Americans, and thus unfit for full participation in American society.
The paper examines the interactions among Coon, segregationist
Carleton Putnam , geneticist
Jackson found in the archived Coon papers records of repeated efforts by Coon to aid Putnam's efforts to provide intellectual support to the ongoing resistance to racial integration but cautioned Putnam against statements that could identify Coon as an active ally. (Jackson also noted that both men had become aware that they had General Israel Putnam as a common ancestor, making them (at least distant) cousins, but Jackson indicated neither when either learned of the family relationship nor whether they had a more recent common ancestor.)
Alan H. Goodman (2000) has noted Coon's main legacy was not his "separate evolution of races (Coon 1962)" but his "molding of race into the new physical anthropology of adaptive and evolutionary processes (Coon et al. 1950)" since he attempted to "unify a typological model of human variation with an evolutionary perspective and explained racial differences with adaptivist arguments."
* The Origin of Races (1962)
* The Story of Man (1954)
* The Races of Europe (1939)
* Caravan: the Story of the Middle East (1958)
* Races: A Study of the Problems of Race Formation in Man
* The Hunting Peoples
FICTION AND MEMOIR:
* Flesh of the Wild Ox (1932) * The Riffian (1933) * A North Africa Story: Story of an Anthropologist as OSS Agent (1980) * Measuring Ethiopia * Adventures and Discoveries: The Autobiography of Carleton S. Coon (1981)
* ^ “Race” Relations: Montagu, Dobzhansky, Coon, and the
Divergence of Race Concepts Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback
* ^ Rowse, A.L. The Cousin Jacks, The Cornish in America
* ^ Coon, Carleton S. (1962). The Origins of Races. New York:
Alfred A. Knopf.
* ^ Howells, H. W. (1989). Carleton Stevens Coon 1904—1981: A
Biographical Memoir (PDF). Washington D.C.: National Academy of
* ^ The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2005.
* ^ Carleton S. Coon, The Origin of Races, Knopf, 1962, p. vii
* ^ Harold M. Schmeck Jr. (June 6, 1981). "
Carleton S. Coon
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