Race and physical anthropology in interwar Austria

in Focaal
Margit Berner Museum of Natural History, Vienna margit.berner@nhm.wien-ac.at

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This article focuses on interwar Austrian physical anthropology, tracing its scientific aspirations, gradual institutionalization, and wider popularization during the interwar period. Largely concentrated in Vienna, Austrian physical anthropologists debated racial questions extensively and conducted racial evaluations based on detailed morphological studies and in-depth analysis of facial "racial" traits. This method was considered ideal for genealogical studies. A host of new societies and working groups collaborated to develop new methodologies and create influential links to universities and public institutions. Within this context, a certificate or "proof of paternity" was developed to resolve disputed court cases. Not only did issuing these certificates become a key source of work and income for anthropologists and their organizations, they also marked the discipline's crucial shift from a theoretical to an applied science.

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