Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality

2008 edition updating from '06, from Seven Stories Press
Stuart Ewen & Elizabeth Ewen
Typecasting: On the Arts and Sciences of Human Inequality
Original price unknown, purchase price $14.00
Slightly worn paperback

The Ewens take a look at the ways that people (mostly white male Europeans and Americans of the last two or three centuries) have tried to label others, using dubious science (some of which threw out data that contradicted the thesis), as well as various forms of art and entertainment.  I found the book to be a bit unfocused, and there were some distracting typos, most oddly enough involving the word "the." However, there is some interesting information, from a 1910ish intelligence test to the Russian attitude towards "Caucasians."  Some of it's funny, but some of it's tragic, like the fate of Saartjie Baartmann, the Khosian woman who was exploited during her life and mutilated after her death, all in the cause of "scientific inquiry."

Yes, the Ewens discuss The Birth of a Nation, as well as other early movies.  Although there are times that they make connections to the present, such as wondering what "your face is destiny" theorists would've done in the modern world of make-up, contact lenses, and plastic surgery, the book would've been strengthened by more on the post-World-War-II era.

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