Climate’s effect on race

Ross contemplates two groups of Bolivian natives. Although they both stem from the same ‘race’, the differing climates they inhabit have created two significantly different populations.

In the market of Coroico in Bolivia, Ross compares the Aimara, Indians from the highland, with the Yungeños, who come from the much milder climate of the lowland. He finds that this climatic difference has led these two populations to develop very different group characteristics. While the Aimara are more masculine, even in their facial features, the Yungeños are “femininely soft”, down to the way they wear their hair. The highlanders are unmistakably superior in their values and work ethic; they walk silently and solemnly behind their highly packed donkeys to bring grain, barley, potatoes, and dried meat to the market. The Yungeños, in contrast, only produce luxury items: fruit, coffee, alcohol, and coca. The Yungeños have better land, and could grow their own food, but instead their provinces hang “like parasites” off of the “flower of the highlands”.

In Ross’s early writing, climate and landscape play a deterministic role in his understanding of race. Later, he will shift away from such biological readings, and interpret difference instead as a product of the environment’s effect on a population’s Weltanschauung.

Kristin Kopp

Colin Ross. Was die Yungas erzeugen. In: Südamerika, die aufsteigende Welt. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1922; 199-202.

Topic: Race
Case: Geopolitics

Scroll to page top