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Dark Vanishings


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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Aboriginal Matters 2. Pre-Darwinian Theories on the Extinction of Primitive Races 3. Vanishing Americans 4. Humanitarian Causes: Antislavery and Saving Aboriginals 5. The Irish Famine 6. The Dusk of the Dreamtime 7. Islands of Death and the Devil 8. Darwin and After 9. Conclusion: White Twilights Notes Works Cited Index

About the Author

Patrick Brantlinger is James Rudy Professor of English (Emeritus) at Indiana University. He is the author of many books, including Dark Vanishings, Fictions of State, Rule of Darkness, and Bread and Circuses, all from Cornell.


"Patrick Brantlinger's argument in Dark Vanishings is straightforward: from 1830 onwards, economists, pioneering anthropologists, natural scientists and literary writers believed that 'primitive' peoples were doomed to extinction... Belief in the inevitability of the natives' fall assuaged guilt about the depopulating effects of colonialism... A significant achievement in Dark Vanishings is Brantlinger's partial, conditional rehabilitation of the race theorists, Robert Knox and Alfred Wallace. Brantlinger shows that, although frequently ludicrous and ill-willed, such writers' works need to read with care, as they influenced still-extant concepts about First World superiority."-Times Literary Supplement "Dark Vanishings should interest historians of ethnology and of cultural anthropology in general... Of particular importance is the question of whether the notion of race, however defined, forged Europeans into racists... The bibliography has value for historians of biology, of economics, and of English literature, not the sort of bedfellows one might have expected before reading Dark Vanishings. Sociologists of science, sure to find in Brantlinger's narrative a sociology of racism in the guise of science, round out the group of scholars who will benefit from reading Dark Vanishings."-Isis "Dark Vanishings should be of interest to anyone who is interested in the history of ideas, globalization and internationalization, and anthropology, or anyone who is a student of race and ethnic relations. The depth of it adds to some of the ideas treated, as well as Brantlinger's endnotes, in and of themselves, make it well worth the time it takes to read it."-Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology "The 'dark vanishings' of Patrick Brantlinger's most recent book are the presumed extinctions, especially self-extinguishings, of people not deemed to be, or not deemed to be capable of being, civilized, of those who cannot participate in Western Progress. Dark Vanishings is obviously required reading for anyone interested in Victorian studies of race and empire."-English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 "In Dark Vanishings, Patrick Brantlinger richly documents his thesis that the discourse of inevitable extermination played a key role, and almost always-certain appearances to the contrary notwithstanding-a pernicious one, in the unholy nineteenth-century nexus of racialism and imperialism that fostered aggression against many defenseless peoples. An important, passionate, and compelling work of scholarship."-Christopher Herbert, author of Victorian Relativity: Radical Thought and Scientific Discovery "By tracing a single strand in the complex web of British and American writings about race, Patrick Brantlinger's Dark Vanishings reveals a surprisingly consistent, widespread, and long-lived consensus that 'savage' races were fated to become extinct. Brantlinger reveals the persistence of this claim, often made in regretful and elegiac modes, across centuries, continents, and political persuasions. Dark Vanishings also challenges us to face the history of our desire to enlighten and restructure what we consider outmoded cultures."-Catherine Gallagher, University of California, Berkeley "The strength of Dark Vanishings lies in Patrick Brantlinger's ability to place wide-ranging and impressive scholarly readings in the frame of ideological critique. The topic of the 'vanishing' of dark races builds on the substantial body of texts dealing with British nineteenth-century imperialism and is therefore of immediate interest to scholars in such disciplines as Victorian studies and postcolonialism."-Deirdre David, Temple University "Patrick Brantlinger shows brilliantly and comprehensively how extinction discourse underwrote genocidal practices, supported eugenics, promoted social Darwinism, and founded modern anthropology as a science of mourning. One of the most impressive aspects of his book is its ability to trace the uniformity of extinction discourse across a number of ideological and political contexts."-John Kucich, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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