The Evolution of the Idea of Race: From Scientific Racism to Genomics

Posted in Anthropology, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Live Events, Social Science on 2015-03-06 20:09Z by Steven

The Evolution of the Idea of Race: From Scientific Racism to Genomics

Oxford University Press Webinar
Oxford University Press
Friday, 2015-03-20, 18:00-19:00Z, 14:00-15:00 EDT

Join Oxford University Press on Friday, March 20th for a Webinar featuring Tanya Golash-Boza.

Tanya Golash-Boza is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts at the University of California, Mereced, and the author of the acclaimed textbook, Race and Racisms: A Critical Approach.

In 1735, Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus divided the world into four groups: Americanus, Asiaticus, Europeanus, and Africanus. In the 1850s, Samuel George Morton measured human skulls to prove European superiority. His successor, Paul Broca, compared brain sizes. Psychologist R. M. Yerkes used IQ tests to the same end in the early 20th century, as did Herrnstein and Murray in the late 20th century. Today, scientists use genomics to prove there are biological differences between the races. What has changed and what has not? In this webinar, we will develop a sociological analysis of the evolution of the idea of race and of the persistence of racism.

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IRRPP Annual Bowman Lecture: Fatal Invention: Why The Politics of Race and Science Still Matters

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-04 14:43Z by Steven

IRRPP Annual Bowman Lecture: Fatal Invention: Why The Politics of Race and Science Still Matters

Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy
University of Illinois, Chicago
Student Center East
750 S. Halsted St, Room 302
Chicago, Illinois
2015-03-12, 16:00 CDT (Local Time)

Dorothy Roberts, Professor of Law and Sociology
University of Pennsylvania

Co-sponsors: Medical Education, Institute for the Humanities Health and Society Working Group, Gender & Women’s Studies, Sociology, Biocultures, Racialized Body Cluster, African American Studies

An acclaimed scholar of race, gender, and the law, Professor Dorothy Roberts is the fourteenth Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, George A. Weiss University Professor, and the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights at University of Pennsylvania. She holds appointments in the Law School and Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology. Professor Roberts received her Doctor of Jurisprudence from Harvard Law School.

This lecture was established to honor Phillip J. Bowman’s contributions to UIC during his tenure as Director of IRRPP and Professor of African American Studies. It features national scholars of race, ethnicity, and public policy who provide timely analysis of issues of critical importance to the field and to communities of color.

For more information, click here.

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Bio Science: Genetic Genealogy Testing and the Pursuit of African Ancestry

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-03-03 20:21Z by Steven

Bio Science: Genetic Genealogy Testing and the Pursuit of African Ancestry

Social Studies of Science
Volume 38, Number 5 (October 2008)
pages 759-783
DOI: 10.1177/0306312708091929

Alondra Nelson, Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies; Director, Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Columbia University, New York, New York

This paper considers the extent to which the geneticization of `race’ and ethnicity is the prevailing outcome of genetic testing for genealogical purposes. The decoding of the human genome precipitated a change of paradigms in genetics research, from an emphasis on genetic similarity to a focus on molecular-level differences among individuals and groups. This shift from lumping to splitting spurred ongoing disagreements among scholars about the significance of `race’ and ethnicity in the genetics era. I characterize these divergent perspectives as `pragmatism’ and `naturalism’. Drawing upon ethnographic fieldwork and interviews, I argue that neither position fully accounts for how understandings of `race’ and ethnicity are being transformed with genetic genealogy testing. While there is some acquiescence to genetic thinking about ancestry, and by implication, `race’, among African-American and black British consumers of genetic genealogy testing, test-takers also adjudicate between sources of genealogical information and from these construct meaningful biographical narratives. Consumers engage in highly situated `objective’ and `affiliative’ self-fashioning, interpreting genetic test results in the context of their `genealogical aspirations’. I conclude that issues of site, scale, and subjectification must be attended to if scholars are to understand whether and to what extent social identities are being transformed by recent developments in genetic science.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Symposium S-H09: Understanding the Dynamics of Beliefs in Genetic and Racial Essences

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Live Events, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-26 20:34Z by Steven

Symposium S-H09: Understanding the Dynamics of Beliefs in Genetic and Racial Essences

The Society for Personality and Social Psychology
16th Annual Convention
Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center
Long Beach, California
2015-02-26 through 2015-02-28

Saturday, 2015-02-28, 15:30-16:45 PST (Local Time)
Room 202ABC

Franki Kung
University of Waterloo


Melody Chao
Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

The symposium presents research that transcends the static, and often negative, conceptualization of essentialism. Four papers present a dynamic view of essentialist beliefs and show that beliefs in genetic or racial essences could lead to both positive and negative social psychological outcomes in interpersonal, intergroup and clinical contexts.

The Implications of Cultural Essentialism on Interpersonal Conflicts in Inter- vs. Intracultural Contexts

Franki Yk Hei Kung
University of Waterloo

Melody M. Chao
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Donna Yao
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Ho-ying Fu
City University of Hong Kong

Although psychological essentialism has been shown to influence a wide range of psychological processes in intergroup contexts, little is known about its impact on managing interpersonal conflicts in intracultural and intercultural settings. The current research aims to address this question. Findings across three studies (N=387) revealed that individuals who endorse essentialist beliefs less were more likely to trust their interaction partner in intercultural than intracultural conflict situations. This increased trusting relationship, in turn, could lead to more integration of ideas and both better individual and joint outcomes in face-to-face dyadic intercultural negotiations. The current study unveils when and how essentialist beliefs influence individuals’ ability to function effectively in intercultural and intercultural contexts. Implications of the findings in advancing our understanding of intercultural competence will be discussed.

To be Essentialist or Not: The Positive and Negative Ramifications of Race Essentialism for Multiracial Individuals

Kristin Pauker
University of Hawaii

Chanel Meyers
University of Hawaii

Jon Freeman
New York University

Research documents the many negative implications of race essentialism for intergroup relations, ranging from increased stereotyping to less motivation to cross racial boundaries. This research has primarily examined such negative implications from the perspective of White perceivers. Two studies (N=138) explored positive and negative ramifications of adopting essentialist beliefs about race for racial minorities, specifically multiracial individuals. We hypothesized that adopting less essentialist beliefs may aid multiracial individuals in flexibly adopting the framework of multiple identities with positive consequences for their face memory, but may result in negative consequences for their racial identity. Results indicated that multiracial individuals with less essentialist views could readily adopt the lens of primed monoracial identities and exhibited preferential memory for identity-prime relevant faces. However, when it came to their own racial identification, more essentialist views appeared to be beneficial—as it was associated with higher identity integration and greater pride in a multiracial identity.

Folk Beliefs about Genetic Variation Predict Avoidance of Biracial Individuals

Jason E. Plaks
University of Toronto

Sonia K. Kang
University of Toronto

Alison L. Chasteen
University of Toronto

Jessica D. Remedios
Tufts University

Laypeople’s estimates of the amount of genetic overlap between vs. within racial groups vary widely. While some believe that different races are genetically similar, others believe that different races share little genetic material. These studies examine how beliefs about genetic overlap affect neural and behavioral reactions to racially-ambiguous and biracial targets. In Study 1, we found that the low overlap perspective predicts a stronger neural avoidance response to biracial compared to Black or White targets. In Study 2, we manipulated genetic overlap beliefs and found that participants in the low overlap condition explicitly rated biracial targets more negatively than Black targets. In Study 3, this difference extended to distancing behavior: Low overlap perceivers sat further away when expecting to meet a biracial person than when expecting to meet a Black person. These data suggest that a priori assumptions about human genetic variation guide perceivers’ reactions to racially-ambiguous individuals.

Genetic Attributions Underlie People’s Attitudes Towards Criminal Responsibility and Eugenics

Steven J. Heine
Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia

Benjamin Y. Cheung
Department of Psychology
University of British Columbia

People are essentialist thinkers – they are attracted to the idea that hidden essences make things as they are. When most people encounter genetic concepts they think of these as essences, and they then think about related phenomena as immutable, determined, homogenous and discrete, and natural. I will discuss experimental research that demonstrates how encounters with information about genetic causes leads people to view two highly politicized topics in quite different terms. Specifically, in contrast to those who were exposed to arguments about experiential causes, people who encountered genetic attributions of violent behavior were more open to defenses appealing to mitigated criminal responsibility, and genetic attributions of intelligence lead people to be more supportive of eugenic policies.

For more information click here and go to page 125.

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Building a Face, and a Case, on DNA

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-24 02:39Z by Steven

Building a Face, and a Case, on DNA

The New York Times

Andrew Pollack

The police in Columbia, S.C.,  released this sketch of a possible suspect based on DNA left at the crime scene. Parabon NanoLabs, which made the image, has begun offering DNA phenotyping services to law enforcement agencies.

There were no known eyewitnesses to the murder of a young woman and her 3-year-old daughter four years ago. No security cameras caught a figure coming or going.

Nonetheless, the police in Columbia, S.C., last month released a sketch of a possible suspect. Rather than an artist’s rendering based on witness descriptions, the face was generated by a computer relying solely on DNA found at the scene of the crime.

It may be the first time a suspect’s face has been put before the public in this way, but it will not be the last. Investigators are increasingly able to determine the physical characteristics of crime suspects from the DNA they leave behind, providing what could become a powerful new tool for law enforcement.

Already genetic sleuths can determine a suspect’s eye and hair color fairly accurately. It is also possible, or might soon be, to predict skin color, freckling, baldness, hair curliness, tooth shape and age.

Computers may eventually be able to match faces generated from DNA to those in a database of mug shots. Even if it does not immediately find the culprit, the genetic witness, so to speak, can be useful, researchers say…

…Law enforcement authorities say that information about physical traits derived from DNA is not permitted in court because the science is not well established. Still, the prospect of widespread DNA phenotyping has unnerved some experts.

Duana Fullwiley, an associate professor of anthropology at Stanford, said that she worried that use of such images could contribute to racial profiling. She noted that Dr. Shriver developed his system by analyzing the DNA and faces of people with mixed West African and European ancestry.

“This leads to a technology that is better able to make faces that are African-American,” she said. The image produced in the South Carolina case, Dr. Fullwiley added, “was of a generic young black man.”

Dr. Shriver said he initially studied people of mixed European and African ancestry, many of them from Brazil, because that made the analysis easier. His more recent research has involved people of many different ethnicities, he said…

Read the entire article here.

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Dorothy Roberts: Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race

Posted in Health/Medicine/Genetics, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-18 02:55Z by Steven

Dorothy Roberts: Fatal Invention: The New Biopolitics of Race

University of California, Los Angeles
School of Law
385 Charles E. Young Drive East
1242 Law Building
Los Angeles, California 90095
2015-02-19, 17:00-18:30 PST (Local Time)
Room: TBD

Dorothy Roberts, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights
University of Pennsylvania

We are witnessing the emergence of a new biopolitics in the United States that relies on re-inventing race in biological terms using cutting-edge genomic science and biotechnologies. Some scientists are defining race as a biological category written in our genes, while the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries convert the new racial science into race-based products, such as race-specific medicines and ancestry tests, that incorporate false assumptions of racial difference at the genetic level. The genetic understanding of race calls for technological responses to racial disparities while masking the continuing impact of racism in a supposedly post-racial society. Instead, I call for affirming our common humanity by working to end social inequities supported by the political system of race.

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Connecting the Dots in Suicide Prevention

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-11 02:49Z by Steven

Connecting the Dots in Suicide Prevention

Vassar Alumnae/i Quarterly
Poughkeepsie, New York
Spring/Summer 2014

Eric Marcus ’80

Rebecca Hyde ’92

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. Christine Yu Moutier ’90 wants to do something about that.

Last fall, following two decades of working as a professor of psychiatry and assistant dean for student affairs and medical education at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Moutier was named chief medical officer for AFSP, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide.

From its headquarters in New York City, she manages a wide range of the organization’s work, including research funding ($5 million for current research), grant selection, and the dissemination of findings. She also oversees programs for survivors of suicide loss and coordinates educational efforts focused primarily on suicide prevention…

…While dedicated to her work as an academic, Moutier has always carved out time for clinical work. She considers her work with San Diego’s Asian refugee population a particular privilege.

“As a mixed-race person growing up in a town that was mostly Slavic and working class, I was teased, so I have special empathy for people who look and feel different. Also, because of mental illness in my own extended family, I grew up seeing how Western medicine wasn’t always trusted,” she says…

Read the entire article here.

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Evidence-based care eliminates racial disparity in colon cancer survival rates, study finds

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-02 15:42Z by Steven

Evidence-based care eliminates racial disparity in colon cancer survival rates, study finds

Stanford Medicine News Center

Lisa Marie Potter
Office of Communication & Public Affairs

A new study finds that equitable delivery of evidence-based care eliminates the racial disparity in colon-cancer survival rates.

For the past two decades, the National Cancer Institute has documented a persistent racial disparity in colon cancer survival rates in the United States.

African-American patients have consistently had lower survival rates when compared with white patients, despite a nationwide decline in colon cancer deaths overall.

Now, a study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that more equitable delivery of evidence-based care can close this gap. Furthermore, the investigators found that evidence-based care was delivered at higher rates within integrated health-care organizations — those in which one organization provides all the patient’s health-care services, hospital care and insurance. The study reports that five-year death rates were lower for all colon cancer patients treated in an integrated health-care system, and the differences in survival by race were eliminated.

The study’s findings, published online Jan. 26 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, support the idea that providing equitable, high-quality, evidence-based care is a powerful tool in eliminating cancer-treatment disparities.

“Historically, we’ve taken less than a critical eye on our own health-care system in terms of how we can take the lead in addressing disparities,” said lead author Kim Rhoads, MD, MPH, assistant professor of surgery. “The big takeaway in this paper is that it’s treatment, not necessarily patient factors, but following evidence-based guidelines that gives all patients the best chance for survival. Our work also suggests a real opportunity to equalize these racial differences.”…

Read the entire press release here.

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How Do Integrated Health Care Systems Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Colon Cancer?

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-02 15:23Z by Steven

How Do Integrated Health Care Systems Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Colon Cancer?

Journal of Clinical Oncology
Published online: 2015-01-26
DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2014.56.8642

Kim F. Rhoads, Colon and rectal surgeon, Colorectal surgeon, Surgical oncologist; Assistant Professor of Surgery at the Stanford University Medical Center
Stanford Cancer Institute
Stanford University School of Medicine

Manali I. Patel, MD
Stanford Cancer Institute
Stanford University School of Medicine

Yifei Ma, Statistician
Stanford University School of Medicine

Laura A. Schmidt, Professor of Health Policy
Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies
University of California, San Francisco

Presented as a poster at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Quality Care Symposium, San Diego, CA, November 30-December 1, 2012.

Purpose: Colorectal cancer (CRC) disparities have persisted over the last two decades. CRC is a complex disease requiring multidisciplinary care from specialists who may be geographically separated. Few studies have assessed the association between integrated health care system (IHS) CRC care quality, survival, and disparities. The purpose of this study was to determine if exposure to an IHS positively affects quality of care, risk of mortality, and disparities.

Patients and Methods: This retrospective secondary-data analysis study, using the California Cancer Registry linked to state discharge abstracts of patients treated for colon cancer (2001 to 2006), compared the rates of National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guideline–based care, the hazard of mortality, and racial/ethnic disparities in an IHS versus other settings.

Results: More than 30,000 patient records were evaluated. The IHS had overall higher rates of adherence to NCCN guidelines. Propensity score–matched Cox models showed an independent and protective association between care in the IHS and survival (hazard ratio [HR], 0.87; 95% CI, 0.85 to 0.90). This advantage persisted across stage groups. Black race was associated with increased hazard of mortality in all other settings (HR, 1.15; 95% CI, 1.04 to 1.27); however, there was no disparity within the IHS for any minority group (P > .11 for all groups) when compared with white race.

Conclusion: The IHS delivered higher rates of evidence-based care and was associated with lower 5-year mortality. Racial/ethnic disparities in survival were absent in the IHS. Integrated systems may serve as the cornerstone for developing accountable care organizations poised to improve cancer outcomes and eliminate disparities under health care reform.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Penn PIK Professor Dorothy Roberts to Receive APA’s 2015 Fuller Award

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Identity Development/Psychology, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-01 00:24Z by Steven

Penn PIK Professor Dorothy Roberts to Receive APA’s 2015 Fuller Award

Penn News
University of Pennsylvania

Jacquie Posey, Media Contact
Telephone: 215-898-6460

The American Psychiatric Association has named University of Pennsylvania professor Dorothy Roberts recipient of the 2015 Solomon Carter Fuller Award in recognition of her demonstrated leadership and exceptional achievements.

The award honors “a Black citizen who has pioneered in an area which has significantly benefitted the quality of life for Black people.”

Roberts is an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law who joined the University in 2012 as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor. She is the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology. Her appointment is shared between the School of Law and the departments of sociology and Africana studies in Penn Arts & Sciences. She is also the founding director of Penn’s Program on Race, Science and Society.

Roberts’ path-breaking work explains the mechanisms and consequences of racial inequities for women, children, families and communities and counters scientific misunderstandings about racial identity. Her research focuses on family, criminal and civil-rights law; bioethics; child welfare; feminist theory; reproductive justice; critical race theory;  and science and society.

Her major books include Fatal Intervention: How Science, Politics and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-first Century; Sex, Power and Taboo: Gender and HIV in the Caribbean and Beyond; Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare; and Killing The Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty

Read the entire news release here.

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