Prior to World War II research in physical anthropology functioned within its social and political context to produce an inegalitarian ideology. Aleš Hrdlička, 1869-1943, held a prominent place in these developments. Subsequent contextual changes (not simply hypothesis testing) produced epistemological changes.Although the field has been liberalized, many of the research interests and beliefs ... [Show full abstract] regarding the concept of race of the pre-war period remained for reasons having little to do with analytical efficacy. The continuing emphasis placed on naturalistic explanation in general is shown in continuity with the apologetic politics of pre-war anthropology. Yet, its promise for political application has dimished. Alternatives with broader application exist in social science approaches to comparative human biology, but social constraints upon the field limit the focus of physical anthropology to natural history. Moreover, this historical analysis shows socio-scientific articulation is intrinsic to the process of scientific discovery and change.