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ANTH 205 Biological Anthropology (Somer) - Scientific Bigotry

Resources relating to issues and practices of scientific bigotry


Treatment for Female Hysteria  (England)
name for condition given to women  in 19th century England experiencing physical or emotional symptoms such as headaches, emotional instability, aggression, depression, feeling lower abdominal heaviness, muscle pains and other discomfort. 


Pharmaceutical Experiments in Africa (current)  (United States)
Refers to drug testing by U.S. researchers and drug companies done in Africa on typically uneducated and poor people who are sometimes led to believe they are receiving medical treatment.


Holmesburg Prison Experiments (1951-74)  (United States)
Various experiments were performed on inmates at the Holmesburg Prison in Holmesburg, PA involving testing chemicals on human skin.  This was for research in cosmetics, chemical warfare agents, radiation, and other products.  Also, mind-altering drugs like LSD were administered to inmates.


Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment (1932-72)  (United States)
Experiment conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. The study was meant to discover how syphilis affected blacks as opposed to whites and the doctors had no intention of trying to cure the disease.


Secret World War II Chemical Experiments Tested Troops By Race (United States)
African-American, Japanese-American, and Puerto Rican soldiers were used as test subjects by scientists exploring how mustard gas and other chemicals might affect enemy troops with dark skin or Japanese troops. 
The American soldiers being experimented on were broken into racial groups, with white soldiers used as scientific control groups to establish what a “normal” reaction would be, and those results were compared to the reactions of other ethnicities.

Guatemala Syphilis Experiment  (1946-48)  (United States and Guatemala)
Experiments sponsored by the U.S. and Guatemalan governments  that infected hundreds of prisoners, prostitutes and mental patients with syphilis to study the disease and possible treatments.


Treatment of Minik  (United States)
Inuit (also called Eskimos) brought to New York in 1897 by explorer Robert Peary.  The Inuits (Minik was the youngest) were taken to the American Museum of Natural History, where they were kept in an overheated basement and treated as specimens and exhibits. 

Treatment of Inuit Children (Denmark)
In the 1950s, a group of Inuit children were taken from their families in Greenland to be re-educated as model Danish citizens.  More than 60 years later, they want the Danish government to apologize for an experiment that did enormous damage.


Eugenics (U.S., many other countries)
The idea that the human species can be improved by stopping or discouraging reproduction by those seen as having undesirable traits or defects.

Unit 731 (Japan, World War II) (1932-45)
Japanese military unit in World War II that used thousands of Chinese, Russian, and American prisoners for experiments in developing chemical and biological weapons.

Nazi Germany Medical Experiments (1939-45)
Experiments done on prisoners, especially in concentration camps, involving their being starved, frozen, injected with poison, and otherwise tortured in the name of medicine.

Castle Bravo  (1954)  (United States)

Castle Bravo was the code name given to a test by the United States of a thermonuclear bomb in 1954 at the Bikini Atoll,part of the Marshall Islands (Pacific Ocean).  According to the Brookings Institute "the test resulted in nuclear fallout that rained down on inhabitants of the atolls near the site of detonation and serviceman working on Operation Castle.... For years later, inhabitants of the island experienced numerous health problems, including birth defects. An estimated 665 inhabitants of the Marshall Islands were overexposed to radiation. Beyond the atolls, traces of radioactive material were discovered in Australia, India, Japan, the United States and Europe. Nuclear fallout spread over roughly 7,000 square miles.