Abstracts on historical topics at the
European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology

7th EADV Congress, Nice, October 7th - 11th, 1998

These abstracts appeared in J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol 1998; 11, supp.2.
Workshop on Races and phototypes. The development of concepts
EADV 98 W14-1 G.L.C.F.D. Cuvier : Early description of races of man
EADV 98 W14-2 Christoph Meiners 1747-1810 and J.F. Blumenbach 1752-1840 what is a caucasian?
EADV 98 W14-3 Charles Darwin 1809-1882 and the origin of species
EADV 98 W14-4 Phototyping, sunlight and its consequences
EADV 98 W14-5 Beauty and its distorsion by disease

Workshop on Races and phototypes. The development of concepts

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EADV 98 - W14-1
G.L.C.F.D. Cuvier: Early description of races of man

C. Durand, Dept of dermatology Pr. J. Meynadier, Hopital St-Eloi, Montpellier, France

The XVIII century was the great turning point of the scientific history: speculative Medicine became clinical Medicine, all the principal discoveries in Anatomy were done, Botany was very developed. Because of all these progresses, scientists needed to classify the knowledge they have accumulated.
G.L.C.F.D. CUVIER (1769-1832) left the university of Stuttgart to arrive in Paris in 1794. He got a position of professor of compared Anatomy at the "museum d'histoire naturelle". Inspired by LINNE, BUFFON, JUSSIEU, he worked to find a classification for all the life-world. The main difficulty was to define the different species of the world-life! In his book "Le Règne Animal Distribué d'après Son Organisation" (1810) mankind was included among the "bimanes" and was divided in three races: the "Caucasique", the white race; "the "Mongolique", the yellow race; the "Ethiopique", the black race. G. CUVIER explained the different colors of skin by the effects of the alimentation and the surrondings. He defended the theory "the Fixism" and he was opposed to the Evolution's theory. In his last book (1835) he defended yet the same theory with the same arguments...one question remained: which types of race are the Americans! G. CUVIER was the first paleontologist and he blended with success Science, Philosophy and History especially in his last book "Histoire des Sciences Naturelles, Histoire des Sciences et du Monde".

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EADV 98 - W14-2
Christoph Meiners 1747-1810 and J.F. Blumenbach 1752-1840 what is a caucasian?

D.C. Angetter, Institute for the History of Medicine, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

The 18th was the century of enlightenment. Systematisation of the plant kingdom and of animal species set in. Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) and François Boissier de Sauvages (1706-1767) were the figure heads of this development.
Anthropologists started to classify man. Christoph Meiners (1747-1810) and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840) were some of the first to try this. Blumenbach in the third edition of his treatise related to a report by a French traveller a century earlier, Jean Chardin (1643-1713) who spoke about the beauty of the people in the Caucasus region. Following this allusion, Blumenbach coined the term varietas caucasia and thereby introduced "Caucasian" into the anthropological literature. This term actually came into use through the English language not through the German language, notwithstanding the fact that Blumenbach was German. Today it must be differentiated that Caucasian is not synonimous to white.

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EADV 98 - W14-3
Charles Darwin 1809-1882 and the origin of species

J. Goens, Hôpitaux Universitaires de la Ville de Bruxelles, Belgique, Belgium

Charles Darwin is mostly remembered today as the father of evolutionism.
This communication aims to give more precise informations than this superficial vision by considering successively: Charles Darwin's life and travels; his theories and works, especially the "Origin of Species" (1859); his considerations about human evolution and races, as exposed in his other great work "The descent of Man" (1871).

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EADV 98 - W14-4
Phototyping, sunlight and its consequences

R. Marks, University of Melbourne, Department of Medicine (Dermatology), St Vincent's Hospital (Melbourne), Fitzroy, Victoria 3065, Australia

Skin cancers are increasing in frequency in most countries where they are being recorded. Most people agree that this is related to a desire for a suntan and increasing exposure of large amounts of the body in public by individuals in an attempt to change their skin colour (i.e. develop a tan). In the early 20th century, ultraviolet radiation exposure was being used to treat disease such as tuberculosis and, thus, tanning became linked to health. In an attempt to determine risk of skin cancer from sunlight exposure, various classification systems of skin type based on response to unprotected exposure to sunlight have been attempted over the last five decades. As yet, no standardised system has been accepted. Nevertheless, there is consensus that those with skin types that are very sensitive to sunlight, burning easily and tanning poorly, have the highest risk of skin cancer and other cutaneous changes. There has been an extraordinary variety of commercial and other ventures aimed at creating or benefitting from this 20th century fashion to change skin colour. A variety of innovative programs are now attempting to population knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour related to sunlight exposure. We are seeing substantial changes back to a more moderate approach, even in the absence of an internationally accepted phototyping classification system.

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EADV 98 - W14-5
Beauty and its distorsion by disease

B. Wegenstein, University of Vienna, Department for Romance Studies, Austria

The concept of beauty related to the human body is relative to the norms, rules and habits of a society. Idealized and aesthetized representations of the human body can therefore always be taken as indicators of value systems and specific believes within a society.
The relationship between the human psyche and soma, the Cartesian res cogitans and res extensa, has been thought over throughout history with different conclusions always related to a specific Zeitgeist. The achievements of evolutionary theories in the 19th century produced a certain normativization of the human body. At that point the concepts of health and beauty were taken over by the technological sciences such as by modern Medicine, whereas philosophical and theological approaches to the human body disappeared slowly from the scientific discourse. Since then the ill and distorted body and of course the dead body have become more and more "problematic" for a society that no longer accepts metaphysical contents as explanations for illness and hence "abnormal bodies".
AIDS as a fatal disease in the late 20th century has been on of the impulses for a techno-medical postmodern society to question again the concepts of health and beauty. Perfomance artists (e.g. the French Orlan, the Australian Stelarc) express their skepticism toward the current norms by presenting their own distorted bodies as works of art: transgression replacing normativity becomes the new content of beauty.