Somatotyping bodies and human anatomy
Articles for today talk about what it means to be a “normal” body and what it
means to “norm” the body
APCAR test at birth: Measurements determining “health”
At doctor’s offices: First thing they do is take your weight height, vision,
etc. Second thing they do is tell you whether or not you are in the “normal
range” or what percentile you are
Q: What happens when you’re not in the normal range?
If the doctor tells you you’re overweight, you may change or feel bad
But what is overweight? Who determines what is normal and what is
deviance from the norm?
Some of this is medical, of course, but much of it is socially
The Birth of Anthropometry
Anthropometry: Measurement of humans
Used to measure living humans in order to understand variation
Influenced by Darwin
Used as “scientific proof” of human behaviors and personality
Cesare Lombroso: Criminal anthropology
Wanted to identify the body of criminals so you can catch them and lock them up
before they do anything
Applied this to the justice system in France (1800s)
Observed anatomical differences of Italian prisoners (to observe the differences
between criminals and noncriminals)
Identified similarities between madmen and geniuses
Led in part to the eugenics movement
Theory of Atavism: Some individuals devolve into primitive (atavistic) beings
Critique of Lombroso
He is locking people up based on how they look. Do we still do this?
Yes: Consider racial profiling and the rates of incarceration
between ethnic groups, “stop and frisk” policies, etc.
Faulty research methods