Turkish Neurosurgery
How Cranial Shapes Led to Contemporary Ethnic Classification: A Historical View
Deniz Belen1
1Ankara Numune, Neurosurgery, Ankara,
DOI: 10.5137/1019-5149.JTN.20821-17.0

In medical literature various ethnic terms, like Caucasian or Mongolian, are sporadically cited for indicating the relationship between certain disorders and geographical origin of individuals. Few of scientists recognize that those definitions are stemmed from a medical thesis written by the German physician Johann Friedrich Blumenbach in 1775. Through considering cranial shapes, Blumenbach proposed five race varieties including the Caucasian, the Mongolian, the Malayan, the Ethiopian, and the American. While he favored only beauty his contemporaries reclaimed an intellectuality arrangement among those race types and gave the highest credibility to Caucasian, which therefore, besides defining an ethnicity, has conveyed a discriminatory meaning. The term had been widely used in medical literature without knowing its historical background. Although not commonly used any longer, the Caucasian and suchlike terms that reflect racial preference may be abandoned from medical writings and might be replaced by more favorable definitions.

Corresponding author : Deniz Belen