The Ethnography of Charles Darwin

A Study of His Writings on Aboriginal Peoples


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About the Book

Because of his stature as one of the great minds of the nineteenth century, Darwin and his work have been examined from almost every conceivable angle. This has led to much critical disagreement on his thoughts regarding the dignity of man, particularly of aboriginal peoples. This book attempts to reconcile the prevailing dual visions of Darwin—as racist and as humanitarian. By consolidating Darwin’s fragmentary ethnographic writings, the text charts his switch from early resignation regarding the victimization of native tribes to advocacy for their plight. While recognizing the differences between modern Europeans and primitive communities, Darwin developed a firm belief in the dignity of man and ultimately viewed the exploitation of aboriginal peoples as morally indefensible.

About the Author(s)

Charles De Paolo, the author of numerous books, is a professor of English at Manhattan Community College, the City University of New York. He lives in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Bibliographic Details

Charles De Paolo
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2010
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4877-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction      1
Abbreviations      15

Part I. Precursors and Analogues
1. Humboldt’s Critical Ethnology      17
2. Malthus’ Theological Demography      29
3. King and FitzRoy in Tierra del Fuego      39

Part II. A Voyage to Humanity
4. Slavery in South America      61
5. FitzRoy and Darwin in Tierra del Fuego      79
6. The “Barbarians” of Argentina      97
7. “The Mysterious Agency”: Darwin in the South Seas      112
8. The Making of Humboldt’s Ethnology      135

Part III. The Post-Voyage Ethnology
9. Allied Kingdoms, 1836 to 1870      141
10. Natural Selection: The Bio-Ethical Dilemma      163
11. Transportation and Census      178
12. Descent as Synthesis      187

Works Cited      197
Index      205

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