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Frontiers of ScienceImperialism and Natural Knowledge in the Gulf South Borderlands, 1500-1850$
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Cameron B. Strang

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469640471

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469640471.001.0001

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Ethnography and Intelligence in the Time of Conquest

Ethnography and Intelligence in the Time of Conquest

(p.208) 5 Ethnography and Intelligence in the Time of Conquest
Frontiers of Science

Cameron B. Strang

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter analyzes ethnographic writings about and by the diverse peoples of the Gulf South in the early 1800s. It argues that ethnography in the United States developed amid the encounters brought about by U.S. imperialism and defined contested hierarchies of mental ability that Anglo-Americans used to legitimate their supremacy. Many Anglo-Americans performed ethnographic observations during and after the United States’ conquest of the Gulf South that seemed to reinforce the hypothesis that nonwhites had inherently inferior brains and could never achieve equality in the nation’s political and intellectual communities. However, blacks, natives, creoles, and even a few Anglo-Americans used ethnography to challenge the new order that U.S. rule was making, and they tended to favor the increasingly old-fashioned perspective that all men were created equal.

Keywords:   ethnography, Choctaws, African-Americans, Creoles, U.S. expansion, race, intelligence

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