Georges Vacher de Lapouge

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Georges Vacher de Lapouge
Vacher de Lapouge.jpg
Born(1854-12-12)12 December 1854
Died20 February 1936(1936-02-20) (aged 81)
Known forAnthroposociology
Spouse(s)Marie-Albertine Hindré
ChildrenClaude Vacher de Lapouge
Scientific career
InfluencesArthur de Gobineau, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin, Alphonse de Candolle, Ernst Haeckel, Francis Galton
InfluencedOtto Ammon, Madison Grant, Carlos C. Closson, Luis Huerta, Jon Alfred Mjoen, Eugen Dühring, Ludwig Woltmann

Count Georges Vacher de Lapouge (French: [vaʃe də lapuʒ]; 12 December 1854 – 20 February 1936) was a French anthropologist and a theoretician of eugenics and racialism. He is known as the founder of anthroposociology, the anthropological and sociological study of race as a means of establishing the superiority of certain peoples.


While a young law student at the University of Poitiers, Vacher de Lapouge read Herbert Spencer and Charles Darwin.[1] In 1879 he gained a doctorate degree in law and became a magistrate in Niort (Deux-Sèvres) and a prosecutor in Le Blanc. He then studied history and philology at the École pratique des hautes études, and learned several languages such as Akkadian, Egyptian, Hebrew, Chinese, and Japanese at the École du Louvre and at School of Anthropology in Paris from 1883 to 1886.

From 1886 Vacher de Lapouge taught anthropology at the University of Montpellier, advocating Francis Galton's eugenic thesis, but was expelled in 1892 because of his socialist activities[2] (he co-founded Jules Guesde's French Workers' Party and campaigned during 1888 for city mayor in the Montpellier municipal election). He worked later as a librarian at the University of Rennes until his retirement in 1922.

Work and legacy[edit]

He wrote L'Aryen: son Rôle Social (1899, "The Aryan: His Social Role"), in which he opposed the Aryan, dolichocephalic races to the brachycephalic races. Vacher de Lapouge thus classified human races: first the Homo europaeus, Nordic or fair-haired, then the Homo alpinus, represented by the Auvergnat and Turkic peoples, finally the Homo mediterraneus, represented by the Neapoletan or Andaluz peoples.

Vacher de Lapouge endorsed Francis Galton's theory of eugenics, but applied it to his theory of races. Vacher de Lapouge's ideas are comparable to those of Henri de Boulainvilliers (1658–1722), who believed that the Germanic Franks formed the upper class of French society, whereas the Gauls were the ancestors of the peasantry. Race, according to him, thus became almost synonymous with social class. Vacher de Lapouge added to this concept of races and classes what he termed selectionism, his version of Galton's eugenics. Vacher de Lapouge's anthropology was intended to prevent social conflict by defining a fixed, hierarchical social order.[3][4]

In 1926, he prefaced and translated Madison Grant's publication The Passing of the Great Race (Le Déclin de la Grande Race, Payot, 1926). He also translated one work of Ernst Haeckel into French.[5][6]

Lapouge had a direct influence on Nazi racial and eugenic doctrine.[7] In his book of "political science" (p. 464) "the future of the Aryans" he described the Jew as the only competitor of the Aryan. In this he is deemed co-responsible for the destruction of European Jews between 1930 and 1950.[8]



  • (1886). "L'Hérédité," Revue d'Anthropologie 1, pp. 512–521.
  • (1887). "La Dépopulation de la France," Revue d'Anthropologie 2 (1), pp. 69–80.
  • (1887). "L'Anthropologie et la Science Politique," Revue d'Anthropologie 2 (2), pp. 136–157.
  • (1887). "Les Sélections Sociale," Revue d'Anthropologie 2 (5), pp. 519–550.
  • (1888). "De l'Inégalité Parmi les Hommes," Revue d'Anthropologie 3 (1), pp. 9–38.
  • (1888). "L´Hérédité dans la Science Politique," Revue d'Anthropologie 3 (2), pp. 169–181.
  • (1915). "Le Paradoxe Pangermaniste", Mercure de France, Tome 111, No. 416, pp. 640–654.
  • (1923). "Dies Irae: La Fin du Monde Civilise," Europe 9 (October 1): 59-61.

Works in English translation

  • (1905). "Natural Selection and Social Selection," in Sociology and Social Progress. Boston: Ginn & Company, pp. 647–653.
  • (1927). "Contribution to the Fundamentals of a Policy of Population," The Eugenics Review 19 (3), 192-7.
  • (1927). "The Numerous Families of Former Times," The Eugenics Review 19 (3), 198-202.
  • (1928). "Race Studies in Europe," Eugenical News 13 (6), 82-84.
  • (1928). "The Nordic Movement in Europe," Eugenical News 13 (10), 132-133.
  • (1929). "Thoughts of Count of Lapouge," Eugenical News 14 (6), 78-80.
  • (1930). "From Count de Lapouge," Eugenical News 15 (8), 116-117.
  • (1932). "Post-War Immigration into France," Eugenical News 17 (4), 94-95.
  • (1934). "A French View," Eugenical News 19 (2), 39-40.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hecht, Jennifer Michael (2013). The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology in France. Columbia University Press, p. 190.
  2. ^ Boissel, Jean (1982). "George Vacher de Lapouge: Un Socialiste Revolutionnaire Darwinien," Nouvelle Ecole 13, pp. 59–83.
  3. ^ "Vacher de Lapouge advocated a socialist order because only such an order could assure that each individual’s racially based abilities could be determined independently of his class. When the 'non-doctrinaire socialist' declared in an article published in 1896 that 'socialism will be selectionist or it will not be at all,' he meant above all that the left should adopt the program of a radical eugenic: the breeding of the Aryan man of the future could only be achieved if, without regard to family background or social status, all 'racially inferior' were prevented from procreation, while all superior men, in addition to a service militaire, would be required to perform a service sexuelle without regard to all traditional norms of sexual behavior. Only if this political model of socialist eugenics were implemented, according to Vacher de Lapouge, would there be any chance that France would survive the impending great conflicts." — Weissmann, Karlheinz (1996). "The Epoch of National Socialism," The Journal of Libertarian Studies 12 (2), pp. 257-294.
  4. ^ Matsuo Takeshi (University of Shimane, Japan). L'Anthropologie de Georges Vacher de Lapouge: Race, Classe et Eugénisme (Georges Vacher de Lapouge anthropology) in Etudes de Langue et littérature Françaises, 2001, No. 79, pp. 47-57. ISSN 0425-4929 ; INIST-CNRS, Cote INIST : 25320, 35400010021625.0050 (Abstract resume on the INIST-CNRS)
  5. ^ "G. Vacher de Lapouge was a man of wide interest in history, sociology and anthropology. Unlike many students of the ethnic problem, he possessed a good working knowledge of biology and human anatomy. He was a disciple of Haeckel. He translated the latter's booklet on the philosophy of monism into French, and provided an introduction to it." — Baker, John R. (1974). "The Historical Background," in Race. Oxford University Press, p. 46.
  6. ^ Haeckel, Ernest (1897). Le Monisme, Lien Entre la Religion et la Science. Paris: Schleicher Frères.
  7. ^ Hecht, Jennifer Michael (2000). "Vacher de Lapouge and the Rise of Nazi Science". Journal of the History of Ideas. 61 (2): 285–304. doi:10.1353/jhi.2000.0018. S2CID 170993471.
  8. ^ Vacher de Lapouge and the Rise of Nazi Science, Jennifer Michael Hecht, Journal of the History of Ideas Vol. 61, No. 2 (Apr., 2000), pp. 285-304, University of Pennsylvania Press

Further reading[edit]

  • Augustin, Jean-Marie (2006). "Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854-1936) aux Origines de l'Eugénisme", Revue Générale de Droit Médical, No. 21, p. 109-132.
  • Augustin, Jean-Marie (2011). Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854-1936): Juriste, Raciologue et Eugéniste. Presses de l'Université de Toulouse I Capitole.
  • Bernardini, Jean-Marc (1997). Le Darwinisme Sociale en France. Paris: CNRS Ed.
  • Clark, Linda L. (1984). Social Darwinism in France. The University of Alabama Press.
  • Colombat, Jean (1946). La Fin du Monde Civilisé: Les Prophéties de Vacher de Lapouge. Paris: Vrin.
  • Gasman, Daniel (1998). "The Monism of Georges Vacher de Lapouge and Gustave Le Bon," in Haeckel's Monism and the Birth of Fascist Ideology. New York: Peter Lang.
  • Guérard, A. L. (1917). "France and 'The Great Race'," The Unpopular Review 8 (16), pp. 248–261.
  • Hawkins, Mike (1997). Social Darwinism in European and American Thought, 1860-1945. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hecht, Jennifer Michael (April 2000). "Vacher de Lapouge and the Rise of Nazi Science". Journal of the History of Ideas. 61 (2): 285–304. doi:10.1353/jhi.2000.0018. S2CID 170993471.
  • Hecht, Jennifer Michael (March 1999). "The Solvency of Metaphysics: The Debate over Racial Science and Moral Philosophy in France,1890-1919". Isis. 90 (1): 1–24. doi:10.1086/384239. S2CID 143737005. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  • La Haye Jousselin, Henri de (1986). Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854-1936): Essai de Bibliographie. Paris: Imprimerie A. Bontemps.
  • Nagel, Günter (1975). Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854-1936): Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Sozialdarwinismus in Frankreich. Freiburg: Hans Ferdinand Schulz.
  • Patte, Étienne (1937). "Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854-1936)," Revue Générale de du Centre-Ouest de la France, 12e Année, pp. 769–789.
  • Quinlan, S. M. (1999). "The Racial Imagery of Degeneration and Depopulation: Georges Vacher de Lapouge and 'Anthroposociology' in Fin-de-Siècle France," History of European Ideas 24 (6), 393-413.
  • Seillière, Ernest (1914). "French Contributors to the Theory of Pan-Germanism," in The German Doctrine of Conquest. Dublin: Maunsel & Co.

External links[edit]