Measuring the Master Race : Physical Anthropology in Norway, 1890-1945
Jon Røyne Kyllingstad
The notion of a superior ‘Germanic' or ‘Nordic' race was a central theme in Nazi ideology. But it was also a commonly accepted idea in the early twentieth century, an actual scientific concept originating from anthropological research on the physical characteristics of Europeans. The Scandinavian Peninsula was considered to be the historical cradle and the heartland of this ‘master race'. Measuring the Master Race investigates the role played by Scandinavian scholars in inventing this so-called superior race, and discusses how the concept stamped Norwegian physical anthropology, prehistory, national identity and the eugenics movement. It also explores the decline and scientific discrediting of these ideas in the 1930s as they came to be associated with the genetic cleansing of Nazi Germany. This is the first comprehensive study of Norwegian physical anthropology. Its findings shed new light on current political and scientific debates about race across the globe.