Science, Sexuality, and Race in the United States and Australia, 1780–1940


Science, Sexuality, and Race in the United States and Australia, 1780–1940


Gregory D. Smithers

516 pages
7 illustrations, 1 table, index


July 2017


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

July 2017


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eBook (PDF)

(Requires Adobe Digital Editions)

July 2017


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About the Book

Science, Sexuality, and Race in the United States and Australia, 1780–1940, Revised Edition is a sociohistorical tour de force that examines the entwined formation of racial theory and sexual constructs within settler colonialism in the United States and Australia from the Age of Revolution to the Great Depression. Gregory D. Smithers historicizes the dissemination and application of scientific and social-scientific ideas within the process of nation building in two countries with large Indigenous populations and shows how intellectual constructs of race and sexuality were mobilized to subdue Aboriginal peoples.

Building on the comparative settler-colonial and imperial histories that appeared after the book’s original publication, this completely revised edition includes two new chapters. In this singular contribution to the study of transnational and comparative settler colonialism, Smithers expands on recent scholarship to illuminate both the subject of the scientific study of race and sexuality and the national and interrelated histories of the United States and Australia.

Author Bio

Gregory D. Smithers is an associate professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the author of several books, including The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity, and is the coeditor of Native Diasporas: Indigenous Identities and Settler Colonialism in the Americas (Nebraska, 2014). 


“A shining example of how to do comparative and transnational history.”—American Historical Review

“[Gregory D. Smithers] combines a very ambitious synthesis of existing scholarship with original research into primary sources. This book could have a profound impact upon scholarly thinking in relevant fields.”—Ann McGrath, author of Illicit Love: Interracial Sex and Marriage in the United States and Australia

“A keen critique of the impossible logic of racism in two major settler societies anxious to strengthen their sense of nationhood. . . . Readers will be fully convinced of the key importance of whiteness in both these societies, and of the science that bolstered it.”—Philippa Levine, author of The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


A Note about Terminology


Part I

1. On the Importance of Good Breeding

2. Debating Race and the Meaning of Whiteness

3. Eliminating the "Dubious Hyphen between Savagery and Civilization”

4. Racial Discourse in the United States and Australia

Part II

5. Missionaries, Settlers, Cherokees, and African Americans, 1780s–1850s

6. Missionaries, Settlers, and Australian Aborigines, 1780s–1850s

7. The Evolution of an American Race, 1860s–1890s

8. The Evolution of White Australia, 1860–1890

Part III

9. The “Science” of Human Breeding

10. “Breeding out the Colour”





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