Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, Social Justice, Social Science on 2018-11-05 19:42Z by Steven

Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code

Polity
May 2019
172 pages
138 x 216 mm / 5 x 9 in
Hardback ISBN: 9781509526390
Paperback ISBN: 9781509526406
Open eBook ISBN: 9781509526437

Ruha Benjamin, Assistant Professor of African American Studies
Princeton University

From everyday apps to complex algorithms, Ruha Benjamin cuts through tech-industry hype to understand how emerging technologies can reinforce white supremacy and deepen social inequity.

Far from a sinister story of racist programmers scheming on the dark web, Benjamin argues that automation has the potential to hide, speed, and even deepen discrimination, while appearing neutral and even benevolent when compared to racism of a previous era. Presenting the concept of the “New Jim Code,” she shows how a range of discriminatory designs encode inequity: by explicitly amplifying racial hierarchies, by ignoring but thereby replicating social divisions, or by aiming to fix racial bias but ultimately doing quite the opposite. Moreover, she makes a compelling case for race itself as a kind of tool – a technology designed to stratify and sanctify social injustice that is part of the architecture of everyday life.

This illuminating guide into the world of biased bots, altruistic algorithms, and their many entanglements provides conceptual tools to decode tech promises with sociologically informed skepticism. In doing so, it challenges us to question not only the technologies we are sold, but also the ones we manufacture ourselves.

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Is science racist?

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-07-07 18:18Z by Steven

Is science racist?

Polity
January 2017
140 pages
122 x 188 mm / 5 x 7 in
Hardback ISBN: 9780745689210
Paperback ISBN: 9780745689227
Open eBook ISBN: 9780745689258

Jonathan Marks, Professor of Anthropology
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Every arena of science has its own flash-point issues – chemistry and poison gas, physics and the atom bomb – and genetics has had a troubled history with race. As Jonathan Marks reveals, this dangerous relationship rumbles on to this day, still leaving plenty of leeway for a belief in the basic natural inequality of races.

The eugenic science of the early twentieth century and the commodified genomic science of today are unified by the mistaken belief that human races are naturalistic categories. Yet their boundaries are founded neither in biology nor genetics and, not being a formal scientific concept, race is largely not accessible to the scientist. As Marks argues, race can only be grasped through the humanities: historically, experientially, politically.

This wise, witty essay explores the persistence and legacy of scientific racism, which misappropriates the authority of science and undermines it by converting it into a social weapon.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. How science invented race
  3. Science, race, and genomics
  4. Racism and biomedical science
  5. What we know, and why it matters
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The Political Ontology of Race

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Philosophy, Politics/Public Policy on 2011-12-01 22:59Z by Steven

The Political Ontology of Race

Polity
2011-10-17
DOI: 10.1057/pol.2011.15

Michael Rabinder James, Associate Professor of Political Science
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
 
Race theory is dominated by two camps. Eliminativists rely on a biological ontology, which contends that the concept of race must be biologically grounded, in order to repudiate the very term, on grounds that it is epistemologically vacuous and normatively pernicious. Conservationists use a social ontology, in which race is based on social practices, in order to retain racial categories in remedial social policies, such as affirmative action and race-based political representation. This article attempts to reorient this debate in two ways. First, it challenges the idea that racial identity is entirely unchosen by defending a political ontology of race that, unlike the biological and social ontologies, affirms the role of non-white agency in determining the political salience of ascribed racial identity. It then transcends the normative impasse between eliminativism and conservationism by contending that all three ontologies are potentially valuable and dangerous, depending on where they are applied. The biological ontology is defensible for evolutionary and medical research, the social ontology for affirmative action and anti-discrimination policy, and the political ontology for political representation.

Read or purchase the article here.

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