‘Race Unmasked’ explores science’s racial past, present

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2014-12-29 02:41Z by Steven

‘Race Unmasked’ explores science’s racial past, present

Science News: Magazine of the Society for Science & The Public
Magazine Issue: Volume 186, Number 12, December 13, 2014

Bryan Bello, Editorial Assistant

Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the 20th Century. Michael Yudell. Columbia University Press, $40

It’s 1921 and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City is packed with visitors eager to learn about the hot science of eugenics. AMNH staff dubs its conference and exhibit “the most important scientific meeting ever held in the museum.” In his new book, Yudell, a historian of public health, argues that the complicated interaction of science and race visible in the eugenics movement is still playing out. “Thinking in the natural sciences has influenced the continued evolution of racist ideology in the United States,” he writes.

An inversion also holds true: Racist ideology has shaped — and continues to sway — the evolution of science. The result is a constant trade-off of influence between popular culture and science.

Yudell dissects key moments in innovation. For example, Mendelian genetics arose and was appropriated by eugenicists to falsely link complex personal attributes to heredity.  In addition, by midcentury, leading anthropologists accepted Africa as the birthplace of the genus Homo, but then several researchers spun off theories positing that different races are Homo sapiens subspecies…

Read the entire article here.

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