Racism and Colonialism in Geography Textbooks, 1840s to 1950s
24 January 2023
The Chinese are the most industrious nation, the Hindoos the most mild, the Tartars the most warlike, the Arabians the most barbarous, and the Persians the most learned. [...] It asks students to reaffirming the supremacy of Whiteness (“Which is the most noble of the five races of men?”), to racialize the United States as White (“To which of the races of men do the greater part of the people of the United States belong?”) and to racialize themselves (“To which race do you belong?”). [...] What is the cause of the varieties in the human race? The European or Caucasian is the most noble of the five races of men. [...] The questions are judiciously arranged, and the answers give the general and important divisions of the globe, with the particular localities of all important places, together with a knowledge of the state of Society, habits and customs of the different races of men. [...] It emphasizes the British Empire as multi-racial (“all the races of the world”), repeating the racial hierarchy found also in Anglo- American texts of the past (“from the lowest and most degraded savage to the finest type of the highest civilization”) and relates this to geographic and ecological diversity (“There is every variety of climate” and “every type of plant grows”).