The Anatomy of Blackness: Science & Slavery in an Age of Enlightenment

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”


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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
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 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
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.
— Choice
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