In this chapter we examine how it was possible for Europeans to have a racialized view of the black between c.1870 and 1914, even though the vast majority had had no direct contact with or ever seen a black person. On the whole our purpose will not be to examine in any detail scientific racist thought, or the works of physical anthropologists on the ‘Negro’, but rather the question of how and why anti-black stereotypes achieved such a remarkable power and universality in European culture and consciousness, and a key role in the construction of racial hierarchies. By the nineteenth century the black represented the paradigm of racial Otherness, the marker of that which was most physically, mentally and culturally different from the ‘civilized’ European. As the anthropologist Professor W. H. Flower noted in 1880: ‘The African negro has, on account of his structure being better known than that of any other of the lower races, always been taken as the antithesis of the white man of Europe.’2 Although anti-Semitic stereotypes, as we shall see, were equally entrenched within European culture, the black was the automatic touchstone of all that was biologically or somatically dissimilar, at the lowest level in the hierarchy of racial types, the bottom rung in a descending ladder of primitiveness, beyond which one was no longer a human being.
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