By 1700, members of the Royal Society were publicly debating the possibility of multiple human races. This paper considers the relationship between the emergence of polygenesis in the first scientific society in England and the development of the experimental method. Questions about skin color accompanied major aspects of this method, including Robert Boyle’s study of optics, the Society’s sets of queries meant to test the findings of travel narratives, and the Society’s museum. The focus on “matters of fact,” intended to free data from traditional theories, also allowed members to ignore their engagement in a colonial structure that made polygenesis most convenient for them. This engagement included individual and corporate investment in the slave trade.
|Keywords:||Race, Experiment, Royal Society, Colonialism|
Chair and Professor of English, Humanities, Lewiston, Maine, USA