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Writing Against the Grain

Writing Against the Grain

Anténor Firmin and the Refutation of Nineteenth-Century European Race Science

(p.27) Writing Against the Grain
Anywhere But Here
Douglas W. Leonard
University Press of Mississippi

Douglass W. Leonard’s essay, “Writing Against the Grain: Antenor Firmin and the Refutation of Nineteenth Century European Race Science,” places the Haitian expatriate and statesmen in square opposition to the rising tide of the racism that was inherent in the widely accepted perspective of Arthur de Gobineau. Firmin challenged the notion of racial hierarchy perpetuated by such works as Gobineau’s Essai sur l’inegalite des Races Humaines (1853), which would thrive as one of the foundational bases for what would become the development of anthropological sciences in the academy. Recognizing it for what it was—i.e., a scientific treatise for the justification of slavery and imperialism under the guise of science—Firmin took on Gobineau’s pseudo-science in his own work De l’Égalité des Races Humaines and boldly challenged the latter’s presumptive assessment and scientific authority.

Keywords:   Antenor Firmin, Haitian Anthropology, Scientific racism, Arthur de Gobineau, Haiti

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