Joseph Deniker

Joseph Deniker ( Astrakhan , March 6, 1852 – Paris , March 18, 1918) was a naturalist and anthropologist French , best known for his attempts to develop highly detailed maps of the races of Europe.


Deniker, of Gaelic parents, was born in 1852 in Astrakhan , Russia . He studied at the State University of Highway Engineers of St. Petersburg . As an engineer , he was able to travel profusely knowing the oil districts of the Caucasus , Central Europe , Italy and Dalmatia . He settled in Paris in 1876 , studying at the Sorbonne , where he received his doctorate in natural sciences in 1886 . In 1888 he was appointed Chief Librarian of the National Museum of Natural History of France in Paris.

Deniker became one of the editors of the Dictionnaire de geographie universelle , publishing many articles in journals of anthropology and of zoology of France . In 1904 he was invited by the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain to give the “Huxley Memorial Lecture”.

He died in Paris in 1918.

Deniker classification system

His complicated maps of European races , of which he made more than twenty, and widely referenced in those days, is today an illustrative sample of the extremes of arbitrary racial classifications. At the end of the s. XIX and early s. XX , had an extensive debate with another racial cartographer: William Z. Ripley on the nature of the races and their number. By that time, Ripley claimed that Europe was composed of three racial groups, while Deniker fixed them in ten European races (six primaries with four subsidiaries or subraces). Its 6 primary races were: nordic , littoral (or atlanto-Mediterranean ), oriental , Adriatic (or Dinaric ), Ibero-insular and Western (or cevenola). And its four subtypes were: subnórdica , northwestern , vístula and subadriática .

“Races of Europe”, by Deniker, from 1899, includes the Norse breed .

His last contribution to the field of racial theory was the designation of one of his races as the Nordic race . While that group did not have a special place in Deniker’s racial model, that “Nordic race” was elevated by the famous eugenicist and racial scientist Madison Grant in his Nordic theory as the engine of civilization. Grant adopted Ripley’s model of the three races for Europeans, but was annoyed by Ripley’s use of the term “Teuton” for one of the races. Grant translated the Nordic race into “Nordic,” and promoted it to the top of its racial hierarchy in its own racial popular theory of the 1910s and 1920s .

Deniker proposed a concept of race too confusing, and proposed the use of the term ” ethnicity ” and that would subsequently adopted primarily on the work of Julian Huxley and Alfred C. Haddon . Ripley argued that Deniker’s idea of ​​a race should better be called “type,” which is less biologically rigid than the approaches to the “race” question.

Some publications

  • Recherches anatomiques et embryologiques sur les singes anthropoides (1886)
  • Etude sur les Kalmouks (1883)
  • Les Ghiliaks (1883)
  • Races et peuples de la terre (1900)
  • The races of man: an outline of anthropology and ethnography (1900)
  • «La première photographie de Lhassa» (photos of Ovché Narzounof ), La Géographie IV (4): 242-247, October 1901.
  • « New Light On Lhasa The Forbidden City, with photographs by Ushe Narzunof », The Century Magazine (The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine) 66 (4): 544-554, August 1903.
  • “Trois voyages à Lhassa (1898-1901) by Ovché Narzounof, pèlerin kalmouk” (présentation), Le Tour du monde – Journal des voyages , nouvelle série, livraisons 19 & 20, 7-14 May 1904

Abbreviation (botany)

  • The abbreviation Deniker is used to indicate to Joseph Deniker like authority in the description and scientific classification of the vegetables. (See the list of all genera and species described by this author in IPNI ). [1]


  • Arthur Keith; Alfred C. Haddon . “Obituary: Dr. Joseph Deniker” Man 18 (May 1918): 65-67
  • Ashley Montagu . “The Concept of Race,” American Anthropologist 64: 5 (October 1962): 919-928