Reverse Colonization as a Function of Criminal Atavism in Bram Stoker's Dracula

Katey Dagger


Victorian Britain had a great fear of foreigners from their colonies overtaking Britain and degrading the lives of the English. At the time, people took pseudosciences such as physiognomy very seriously. Cesare Lombroso invented the idea of Criminal Anthropology, which insisted that all criminals had physical indicators not only of their inherent criminality, but also of which kind of criminal they are. This essay discusses Bram Stoker’s Dracula in relation to British xenophobia and the pseudosciences of the time. It focuses speciIically on Criminal Anthropology and how it relates to the theory of atavism, which is the idea that Darwin’s theory of evolution can work in reverse. Dracula perfectly Iits Lombroso’s description of a murderer, and Iills the role of the “foreign other” that plagued the British mind. He comes into the country, kills Englishmen, and spreads his bad blood, resulting in the reverse colonization that the English so strongly feared.

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