How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Letters, Media Archive on 2018-03-31 02:37Z by Steven

How Not To Talk About Race And Genetics


Micah Baldwin / Via Flickr: micahb37

Race has long been a potent way of defining differences between human beings. But science and the categories it constructs do not operate in a political vacuum.

This open letter was produced by a group of 68 scientists and researchers. The full list of signatories can be found below.

In his newly published book Who We Are and How We Got Here, geneticist David Reich engages with the complex and often fraught intersections of genetics with our understandings of human differences — most prominently, race.

He admirably challenges misrepresentations about race and genetics made by the likes of former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade and Nobel Laureate James Watson. As an eminent scientist, Reich clearly has experience with the genetics side of this relationship. But his skillfulness with ancient and contemporary DNA should not be confused with a mastery of the cultural, political, and biological meanings of human groups.

As a group of 68 scholars from disciplines ranging across the natural sciences, medical and population health sciences, social sciences, law, and humanities, we would like to make it clear that Reich’s understanding of “race” — most recently in a Times column warning that “it is simply no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races’” — is seriously flawed…

Read the entire letter here.

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The Nature of Difference: Sciences of Race in the United States from Jefferson to Genomics

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, United States on 2011-10-05 21:29Z by Steven

The Nature of Difference: Sciences of Race in the United States from Jefferson to Genomics

MIT Press
January 2009
368 pages
7 x 9, 35 illus.
Paper ISBN-10: 0-262-58275-9; ISBN-13: 978-0-262-58275-9

Evelynn M. Hammonds, Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies (and Dean of Harvard College)
Harvard University

Rebecca M. Herzig, Professor of Women and Gender Studies
Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

The Nature of Difference documents how distinctions between people have been generated in and by the life sciences. Through a wide-ranging selection of primary documents and insightful commentaries by the editors, it charts the shifting boundaries of science and race through more than two centuries of American history. The documents, primarily writings by authoritative, eminent scientists intended for their professional peers, show how various sciences of race have changed their object of study over time: from racial groups to types to populations to genomes and beyond. The book’s thematic and synthetic approach reveals the profoundly diverse array of practices—countless acts of observation, quantification, and experimentation—that enabled the consequential categorizations we inherit.
The documents—most reproduced in their entirety—range from definitions of race in dictionaries published between 1886 and 2005 to an exchange of letters between Benjamin Baneker and Thomas Jefferson; from Samuel Cartwright’s 1851 “Report on the Diseases and Physical Peculiarities of the Negro Race” to a 1950 UNESCO declaration that race is a social myth; from a 1928 paper detailing the importance of the glands in shaping human nature to a 2005 report of the discovery of a genetic basis for skin color. Such documents, given context by the editors’ introductions to each thematic chapter, provide scholars, journalists, and general readers with the rich historical background necessary for understanding contemporary developments in racial science.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Index
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So… What Are You, Anyway?

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2011-03-13 22:26Z by Steven

So… What Are You, Anyway?

Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association
Harvard University
2011-03-25 through 2011-03-26

The Harvard Half-Asian People’s Association will host its third annual conference on mixed-race politics and identity issues, “So…What Are You, Anyway?” (SWAYA) on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26, 2011 on the Harvard University campus. The event is open to the public and will feature an array of exciting guest lecturers who will speak on issues involving multiracial identity.

The conference will include lectures given by the Dean of Harvard College and other Harvard College professors, as well as student panels and discussion groups. Last year, the event drew over one hundred students and other guests from colleges and cities around the Boston area.

SWAYA will culminate in a special gala dinner* in honor of the 2010 recipient of the Cultural Pioneer Award, celebrity mixed-race artist Jeff Chiba Stearns, director of the award-winning documentary “One Big Hapa Family”. An international spokesperson on mixed-race identity, Stearns’ short films exploring multiethnic issues have been screened in hundreds of film festivals around the world and have garnered over 33 awards.

For more information, click here.

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