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Biographie de Pittard (document en anglais)

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Pittard's fascination with anthropology began during a stay in Paris. It was followed by a doctoral thesis on anthropology in 1898. Although Pittard was a popular teacher and charismatic personality in the lecture rooms, he is most remembered as a scientist. The crux of his thesis involved an extensive study of the skulls recovered from the ossuaries in Valais. But he was also deeply interested in the ancient people of the Balkans. This particular interest of led to his fascination with the Gypsies. His work and findings in these areas of study, and their subsequent publication, catapulted him to the higher echelons of the anthropological sphere. A seminal anthropologist, his biggest contribution to anthropology is regarded as the perspective he expounded of studying humans in their entirety, as more than biological creatures.[2]

Pittard was also of the opinion that the descriptive methods in vogue during his times were ineffective in the study of humans. He also stated that the anthropometric approach and that of race as fundamental basis of research were useless in studying and describing human beings. He published his research findings in a book in 1924, entitled Races and History.

Nearly two decades before the Second World War began and the Nazi propaganda for the need to preserve a pure breed of people, Pittard had declared that there wasn't a pure breed of people in Europe. This was a claim at that time, since Pittard was speculating, albeit based on his vast experience of studying people. But when genetics developed significantly in the 1960s, it came to be known that Pittard had been right.


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