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Living Color

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The publisher gratefully acknowledges the generous
support of the Humanities Endowment Fund of the
University of California Press Foundation.

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Living Color
The Biological and Social
Meaning of Skin Color

Nina G. Jablonski

Universit y of California Press
Berkeley  



   Los Angeles  



   London

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University of California Press, one of the most distinguished
university presses in the United States, enriches lives around
the world by advancing scholarship in the humanities, social
sciences, and natural sciences. Its activities are supported by
the UC Press Foundation and by philanthropic contributions
from individuals and institutions. For more information,
visit www.ucpress.edu.
University of California Press
Berkeley and Los Angeles, California
University of California Press, Ltd.
London, England
© 2012 by Nina G. Jablonski
Title page. A scene from Brazil’s Carnival epitomizes
“living color.” Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images.
Lyrics quoted in chapter 13 are from “Young Woman’s
Blues,” by Bessie Smith. Reprinted by permission of
Hal Leonard Corporation. © 1927 (renewed), 1974
Frank Music Corp. All rights reserved.
Malibu Barbie and associated trademarks and trade
dress are owned by, and used under permission of,
Mattel, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Jablonski, Nina G.
  Living color : the biological and social meaning of
skin color / Nina G. Jablonski.
  p.   cm.
  Includes bibliographical references and index.
  isbn 978-0-520-25153-3 (cloth : alk. paper)
  1. Human skin color.  2. Human skin color—
Physiological aspects.  3. Human skin color—Social
aspects.  4. Human skin color—Cross-cultural studies. 
I. Title.
  gn197.j34  2012
  573.5—dc23 2012003746
Manufactured in the United States of America
21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
The paper used in this publication meets the minimum
requirements of ansi/niso z39.48–1992 (r 1997)
(Permanence of Paper).

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To George

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This content downloaded from 169.229.98.134 on Sun, 13 Sep 2015 00:14:15 UTC
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Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface and Acknowledgments
Introduction

ix
xi
1

Pa rt One . Biology

1
2
3
4
5
6

Skin’s Natural Palette
Original Skin
Out of the Tropics
Skin Color in the Modern World
Shades of Sex
Skin Color and Health

9
24
34
47
64
72

Pa rt T wo. Soc ie t y

7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

The Discriminating Primate
Encounters with Difference
Skin Color in the Age of Exploration
Skin Color and the Establishment of Races
Institutional Slavery and the Politics of Pigmentation
Skin Colors and Their Variable Meanings
Aspiring to Lightness
Desiring Darkness
Living in Color

Notes
References
Index

93
103
117
134
142
157
169
182
194

199
225
249

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This content downloaded from 169.229.98.134 on Sun, 13 Sep 2015 00:14:28 UTC
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