女性を弄ぶ博物学―リンネはなぜ乳房にこだわったのか? 単行本 – 1996/10/20
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Examining Linnaeus’ taxonomy of plants, Schiebinger writes, “Linnaeus simply brought traditional notions of gender hierarchy whole cloth into science. He read nature through the lens of social relations in such a way that the new language of botany incorporated fundamental aspects of the social world as much as those of the natural world” (pg. 17). Further, “differences between the two sexes were reflections of a set of dualistic principles which penetrated the cosmos as well as the bodies of men and women” (pg. 38). Examining the classification of mammalia, Schiebinger writes, “Linnaeus created his term Mammalia in response to the question of humans’ place in nature. In his quest to find an appropriate term for (what we would call) a taxon uniting humans and beasts, Linnaeus made the breast – and specifically the fully developed female breast – the icon of the highest class of animals” (pg. 53). Schiebinger continues, “Early accounts of anthropoid apes pouring into Europe in this period often told more about European customs than about the natural habits of apes” (pg. 76). She writes, “By and large, female sexual organs were studied in order to highlight the animal side of human life. In some instances woman’s sexual organs were said to link her directly to apes” (pg. 89). In terms of race, Schiebinger writes, “For European anatomists, blacks were exotic. But, as we shall see, to men of the academy, European women were in many ways just as exotic” (pg. 116). Much of their taxonomic studies took into account aesthetics, classifying race based on ideas of beauty. Schiebinger writes, “The consolidation of the (predominately male) medical profession coincided with a scientific revolution in definitions of sex and the development of a new image of women as essentially nonscientific. It also coincided with the revolution in definitions of race and the attempt to ground scientifically the exclusion of men of color from science” (pg. 142). Schiebinger further writes, “Scientific racism and scientific sexism both taught that proper social relations between the races and the sexes existed in nature. Many theorists failed to see, however, that their notions of racial and sexual relations rested on contradictory visions of nature” (pg. 146). Additionally, “Racial science interrogated males and male physiology, while sexual science scrutinized European subjects” (pg. 146). In this way, “Naturalists did not draw their research priorities and conclusions from a quiet contemplation of nature, but from political currents of their times” (pg. 183).
Londa Schiebinger's work isn't merely about the construction of genders as the title suggests, but to a great extent also about the intertwined construction of races. Which you won't find tackled together very often. She unravels the sexist - no less fascinating as sick as arbitrary - origins of taxonomy, still in use today. Her point is that scientists aren't free of the times they are living in, causing science concepts to build on whatever contemporary constructs, usually well beyond those constructs' expiration dates. For example, calling mammals "mammals" isn't as logical as it is usually taken for granted, but reflects the fashion of mind, when first imprinted on our collective memory.
Many jaw-dropping facts keep the reading interesting from beginning to end. (Apes as slaves in European mines, women admitted to the Académie des Sciences in Paris no sooner than 1979, menstruation blood once thought to turn wine sour, kill bees and drive dogs mad). One minor remark, though: As a specialist in the topic, she should have avoided the term "races" and related vocabulary, as none of those words resemble current - or 1993 - scientific knowledge.
You may be interested in related topics: The Meanings of Sex Difference in the Middle Ages: Medicine, Science, and Culture (Cambridge Studies in the History of Medicine) and Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, or the Opposite Sex.