Joseph Auguste Anténor Firmin
(18 October 1850 – 19 September 1911), better known as simply Anténor Firmin
, was a Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...
, journalist, and politician. Firmin is best known for his book De l'Égalité des Races Humaines
(On the Equality of Human Races), which was published as a rebuttal to French writer Count Arthur de Gobineau
Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau was a French aristocrat, novelist and man of letters who became famous for developing the theory of the Aryan master race in his book An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races...
's work Essai sur l'inegalite des Races Humaines
Essai sur l'inégalité des races humaines by Joseph Arthur Comte de Gobineau was intended as a work of philosophical enquiry into decline and degeneration...
(Essay on the Inequality of Human Races). Gobineau's book asserted the superiority of the Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...
and the inferiority of blacks and other people of color.
Firmin's work, first published in 1885, argued the opposite, that "all men are endowed with the same qualities and the same faults, without distinction of color or anatomical form. The races are equal" (pp. 450). He was marginalized at the time for his beliefs that all human races were equal.
Firmin pioneered the integration of race and physical anthropology
Biological anthropology is that branch of anthropology that studies the physical development of the human species. It plays an important part in paleoanthropology and in forensic anthropology...
and may be the first black anthropologist. His work was recognized not only in Haiti but also among scholars of Africans as an early work of négritude
Négritude is a literary and ideological movement, developed by francophone black intellectuals, writers, and politiciansin France in the 1930s by a group that included the future Senegalese President Léopold Sédar Senghor, Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, and the Guianan Léon Damas.The Négritude...
. He had an impact on Jean Price-Mars
Jean Price-Mars was a Haitian writer. Born in Grande Rivière du Nord, Price-Mars obtained a degree in medicine and worked as a diplomat.-Negritude movement:...
, the founder of Haitian ethnology
Ethnology is the branch of anthropology that compares and analyzes the origins, distribution, technology, religion, language, and social structure of the ethnic, racial, and/or national divisions of humanity.-Scientific discipline:Compared to ethnography, the study of single groups through direct...
and on American anthropologist Melville Herskovits.
Born in Cap-Haïtien
Cap-Haïtien is a city of about 190,000 people on the north coast of Haiti and capital of the Department of Nord...
, Firmin worked in teaching, politics, and diplomacy. He founded Le Messager du Nord
, a political and literary publication.
- De l'Égalité des Races Humaines - published 1885
- Haïti et la France - published 1891
- Une Défense - published 1892
- Diplomate et Diplomatie - published 1898
- M. Roosevelt, Président des États-Unis et la République d'Haïti - published 1905
- Lettres de Saint-Thomas - published 1910