The Anatomy of Blackness charts the evolution of the concept of race in eighteenth-century France and Europe. Examining travelogues, natural histories, as well as pro- and anti-slavery tracts, this comprehensive study recounts the story of how a number of now-forgotten anatomists slowly revolutionized the era’s understanding of black Africans . . . as well as the justification of slavery.


Prix Monsieur et Madame Louis Marin 2018 de l’Académie des sciences d’outre-mer

A Choice “outstanding title”


Amazon-US  | Amazon-FR


2012 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice Magazine


“Curran’s approach to intellectual history is an exciting one that transcends the oft-written biographies and other author-centered discussions. His focus on trends and his immersion in the writings of the time creates an accurate rather than anachronistic mindset, which is truly useful for historians.”

— Sarah Goodwin, author of Alpata: A Journal of History


“This is an important contribution to an important topic. But it is also a model of how intellectual history should be done. Curran moves well beyond the parade of Big Thinkers that have long dominated the history of ideas..”

— Marshall Poe, author of New Books in History


“A definitive statement on the complex, painful, and richly revealing topic of how the major figures of the French Enlightenment reacted to the enslavement of black Africans, often to their discredit. ”

— Mary McAlpin, Symposium


“This engrossing, comprehensive study traces 18th-century European thought on anatomical blackness of Africans... Curran’s ability to dissect and explain complicated arguments of the period’s major thinkers is impressive.”



“A highly intelligent book on an important topic. The breadth of Andrew Curran’s knowledge about the Enlightenment is astonishing.”

— Carl Niekerk, Centaurus


“Wide-ranging, well-researched, and compellingly argued, The Anatomy of Blackness makes a substantial and valuable contribution to our understanding of the complexities of Enlightenment theories of racial difference. ”

— Lynn Festa, author of Sentimental Figures of Empire in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France