This rich collection of papers by leading figures in the field concerns the “co-emergence of the concepts of race, gender and reproduction in the decades around 1800” (1). The editor, Susanne Lettow, notes that these have “rarely been studied in relation to each other” (1), and this motivated the collection, which was based upon conferences she sponsored in Vienna at the Institute for the Human Sciences as part of her research project “The Symbolic Power of Biology: Articulations of Biological Knowledge in Naturphilosophie around 1800.” The upshot, she notes, was to discern “resonances” but the concepts were “rarely parallelized or treated as analogies”—and above all, despite anticipations of the nineteenth-century dogma “that sex and race are biological givens indicating cultural and social status,” no “idea of biopolitics as a unified paradigm” had consolidated by 1800 (7, 8). I will return to this point later, but let me start with the...

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