Brown Bodies, White Babies: The Politics of Cross-Racial Surrogacy

Posted in Books, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2016-09-29 01:41Z by Steven

Brown Bodies, White Babies: The Politics of Cross-Racial Surrogacy

New York University Press
September 2016
320 pages
Cloth ISBN: 9781479808175
Paper ISBN: 9781479894864

Laura Harrison, Assistant Professor
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Brown Bodies, White Babies focuses on the practice of cross-racial gestational surrogacy, in which a woman—through in-vitro fertilization using the sperm and egg of intended parents or donors – carries a pregnancy for intended parents of a different race. Focusing on the racial differences between parents and surrogates, this book is interested in how reproductive technologies intersect with race, particularly when brown bodies produce white babies. While the potential of reproductive technologies is far from pre-determined, the ways in which these technologies are currently deployed often serve the interests of dominant groups, through the creation of white, middle-class, heteronormative families.

Laura Harrison, providing an important understanding of the work of women of color as surrogates, connects this labor to the history of racialized reproduction in the United States.  Cross-racial surrogacy is one end of a continuum in which dominant groups rely on the reproductive potential of nonwhite women, whose own reproductive desires have been historically thwarted and even demonized.  Brown Bodies, White Babies provides am interdisciplinary analysis that includes legal cases of contested surrogacy, historical examples of surrogacy as a form of racialized reproductive labor, the role of genetics in the assisted reproduction industry, and the recent turn toward reproductive tourism.  Joining the ongoing feminist debates surrounding reproduction, motherhood, race, and the body, Brown Bodies, White Babies ultimately critiques the new potentials for parenthood that put the very contours of kinship into question.

Tags: , ,

A Single Migration From Africa Populated the World, Studies Find

Posted in Africa, Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive on 2016-09-25 14:38Z by Steven

A Single Migration From Africa Populated the World, Studies Find

The New York Times

Carl Zimmer

The KhoiSan, hunter-gatherers living today in southern Africa, above, are among hundreds of indigenous people whose genetic makeup has provided new clues to human prehistory.
Credit: Eric Laforgue/Gamma-Rapho, via Getty Images

Modern humans evolved in Africa roughly 200,000 years ago. But how did our species go on to populate the rest of the globe?

The question, one of the biggest in studies of human evolution, has intrigued scientists for decades. In a series of extraordinary genetic analyses published on Wednesday, researchers believe they have found an answer.

In the journal Nature, three separate teams of geneticists survey DNA collected from cultures around the globe, many for the first time, and conclude that all non-Africans today trace their ancestry to a single population emerging from Africa between 50,000 and 80,000 years ago.

“I think all three studies are basically saying the same thing,” said Joshua M. Akey of the University of Washington, who wrote a commentary accompanying the new work. “We know there were multiple dispersals out of Africa, but we can trace our ancestry back to a single one.”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Inequality and African-American Health: How Racial Disparities Create Sickness

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2016-09-23 01:45Z by Steven

Inequality and African-American Health: How Racial Disparities Create Sickness

Policy Press
224 pages
6¾ x 9½
Cloth ISBN-13: 978-1-4473-2281-8
Paper ISBN-13: 978-1-4473-2282-5

Shirley A. Hill, Professor of Sociology
Univeristy of Kansas

This book shows how living in a highly racialized society affects health through multiple social contexts, including neighborhoods, personal and family relationships, and the medical system.

Black-white disparities in health, illness, and mortality have been widely documented, but most research has focused on single factors that produce and perpetuate those disparities, such as individual health behaviors and access to medical care.

This is the first book to offer a comprehensive perspective on health and sickness among African Americans, starting with an examination of how race has been historically constructed in the US and in the medical system and the resilience of racial ideologies and practices. Racial disparities in health reflect racial inequalities in living conditions, incarceration rates, family systems, and opportunities. These racial disparities often cut across social class boundaries and have gender-specific consequences.

Bringing together data from existing quantitative and qualitative research with new archival and interview data, this book advances research in the fields of families, race-ethnicity, and medical sociology.


  • Introduction
  • Part One: Theorizing Social Inequalities in Health
    • Race, Racism, and Sickness
    • Slavery and Freedom
  • Part Two: Health and Medicine
    • Health Behaviors in Social Context
    • Medical Care and Health Policy
  • Part Three: Health and Families
    • Economic Decline and Incarceration
    • Love, Sexuality and (Non)Marriage
    • Children’s Health
Tags: , ,

CFP: Deadline approaching – Race, Sex, and Reproduction in the Global South, c.1800-2000 workshop

Posted in Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Wanted/Research Requests/Call for Papers on 2016-09-19 00:05Z by Steven

CFP: Deadline approaching – Race, Sex, and Reproduction in the Global South, c.1800-2000 workshop

Humanities and Social Sciences Online

Chiara Beccalossi

Reminder – Proposals for the Race, Sex, and Reproduction in the Global South, c.1800-2000 workshop are due on 25 September 2016.

Call for papers: Workshop: Race and Ethnicity in the Global South and the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science (The University of Sydney), 18 April 2017

Keynote speaker:

Alison Bashford, Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History
University of Cambridge

Biomedical scientists grew preoccupied with the size of the population and patterns of reproduction at the beginning of the nineteenth century. By the end of the same century sexology, a science devoted to the study of human sexual behavior, emerged, and at the beginning of the twentieth century the eugenics movement advocated active social engineering and state intervention in citizens’ private lives and reproductive sexuality. Such medical attention on reproduction and control of human sexual behaviour has been closely intertwined with interest in evolutionary theories, the improvement of hereditary traits and racial differences. Scientific and pseudo-scientific inquiries into race and sexuality increasingly informed national policies in the modern period; for example they were used to support policies to restrict mixed-race unions, control immigration and to promote pronatalist campaigns among some ethnic groups.

This medical and scientific knowledge on race and sexuality has moved across countries and continents to become global through processes of translation, hybridisation and transculturation. However, historical accounts of how science and medicine have shaped modern ideas of race and sexuality in a global context quite often refer only to Western countries in the Global North. Recent innovative histories on the Global South have shown that debates on race and reproduction in the southern hemisphere have their own history; they neither uncritically reflect ideas from the Global North nor have they been simply influenced by theories popular in the northern hemisphere. For example, we can find biomedical scientists in the southern hemisphere who showed greater interest in racial plasticity, environmental adaptation, mixing or miscegenation, and blurring of racial boundaries. Likewise sexologists in the Global South were far more interdisciplinary than their northern counterparts and incorporated criminal anthropology, psychiatry, biology, endocrinology and psychoanalysis in their studies until well into the 1970s.

This workshop aims to explore medical and scientific understandings of race and reproduction in the Global South in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and to illustrate how these understandings have influenced government policies. We invite scholars working on the Global South to submit a proposal and possible topics include:

  • Reproduction, sexuality and race
  • Gender and race
  • Sexology
  • Evolutionary, hereditary and ecological theories
  • Medical and scientific ideas about racial plasticity, environmental adaptation, miscegenation and assimilation
  • Indigeneity and post/colonialism
  • Biopolitics, immigration and reproductive policies

We aim to publish the contributions in an international peer-reviewed journal.

Abstracts of proposals and a short CV (max. 2 pages) should be sent to:

Abstracts should be approx. 250 words in length, sent as an email attachment, and list name, organisation, and contact address. They should also include the title of the proposed paper.

The deadline for the submission of proposals is 25 September 2016. Proposers will be informed whether their paper has been accepted by 1 October 2016.

Enquiries about the workshop should be directed to the above email address.


Warwick Anderson (University of Sydney)
Chiara Beccalossi (University of Lincoln)
Hans Pols (University of Sydney)

For more information, click here.

Tags: , , , ,

Meet the Man Who Proved That Discrimination Can Make You Physically Sick

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, United States on 2016-09-18 21:54Z by Steven

Meet the Man Who Proved That Discrimination Can Make You Physically Sick


Miriam Zoila Pérez

Dr. David Williams pioneered three ways to prove the links between discrimination and poor health.

An ever-growing body of research in the fields of public health, sociology and medicine is presenting a strong case for something you may personally know to be to true: Experiencing discrimination is bad for your health.

Dr. David Williams, a sociologist, public health researcher and African-American studies professor, is a leader in this field. He has spent decades creating tools that allow for the scientific measurement of discrimination and its impacts on health.

Williams started his career as a health educator at a Michigan hospital, and he says his work there led him to explore the links between individual behavioral changes and the limitations of a person’s social environment. From there he pursued a Ph.D. in sociology. Williams is currently a professor of public health, sociology and African-American history at Harvard University.

Colorlines spoke to Williams via phone about his work and the incredible body of research about discrimination and health. The interview has been edited for length and clarity…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,

Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

Posted in Anthologies, Books, Forthcoming Media, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2016-09-01 00:58Z by Steven

Remapping Race on the Human Genome: Commercial Exploits in a Racialized America

October 2016
645 pages
6.125 x 9.25
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4408-4992-3
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4408-4993-0

Edited by:

Patricia Reid-Merritt, Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Africana Studies
Stockton University, Galloway, New Jersey

Is race simply an antiquated, pseudo-scientific abstraction developed to justify the dehumanization of various categories of the human population?

Focusing on the socially explosive concept of race and how it has affected human interactions, this work examines the social and scientific definitions of race, the implementation of racialized policies and practices, the historical and contemporary manifestations of the use of race in shaping social interactions within U.S. society and elsewhere, and where our notions of race will likely lead.

More than a decade and a half into the 21st century, the term “race” remains one of the most emotionally charged words in the human language. While race can be defined as “a local geographic or global human population distinguished as a more or less distinct group by genetically transmitted physical characteristics,” the concept of race can better be understood as a socially defined construct—a system of human classification that carries tremendous weight, yet is complex, confusing, contradictory, controversial, and imprecise.

This collection of essays focuses on the socially explosive concept of race and how it has shaped human interactions across civilization. The contributed work examines the social and scientific definitions of race, the implementation of racialized policies and practices, and the historical and contemporary manifestations of the use of race in shaping social interactions (primarily) in the United States—a nation where the concept of race is further convoluted by the nation’s extensive history of miscegenation as well as the continuous flow of immigrant groups from countries whose definitions of race, ethnicity, and culture remain fluid. Readers will gain insights into subjects such as how we as individuals define ourselves through concepts of race, how race affects social privilege, “color blindness” as an obstacle to social change, legal perspectives on race, racialization of the religious experience, and how the media perpetuates racial stereotypes.


  • Addresses a poignant topic that is always controversial, relevant, and addressed in mainstream and social media
  • Examines the various socio-historical factors that contribute to our understanding of race as a concept, enabling readers to appreciate how “definitions” of race are complex, confusing, contradictory, controversial, and imprecise
  • Inspects contemporary manifestations of race in the United States with regard to specific contexts, such as the quest for U.S. citizenship, welfare services, the legislative process, capitalism, and the perpetuation of racial stereotypes in the media
Tags: ,

Interview with Jonathan Xavier Inda on Racial Prescriptions

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2016-09-01 00:40Z by Steven

Interview with Jonathan Xavier Inda on Racial Prescriptions

Theory, Culture & Society

Sibille Merz, Doctoral Researcher
Goldsmiths, University of London

Questioning Racial Prescriptions: An interview with Jonathan Xavier Inda

Sibille Merz: Racial Prescriptions provides a timely, illuminating and theoretically-engaged analysis of the making of BiDil, the first (and only) drug that was marketed exclusively to African Americans. Even though it has proven commercially unsuccessful, the drug has triggered a remarkable discussion, academic as well as activist, about the increasing geneticisation of race, the nature of racial health disparities in the US, and the re-articulation of racial politics under neoliberalism. What motivated you to write the book?

Jonathan Xavier Inda: One of my main concerns as a scholar has been to explore the exclusionary politics of race in the United States. For example, my first book, Targeting Immigrants: Government, Technology, and Ethics (2006), deals with racial politics of immigration. The major aim of this book is to situate the government of “illegal” immigration within what scholars have called advanced liberal modes of rule. These are forms of governance in which the political apparatus no longer appears obligated to safeguard the well-being of the population through maintaining a sphere of collective security. Instead, it becomes incumbent upon individuals to take upon themselves the primary responsibility for managing their own security and that of their families. Targeting Immigrants notes that while scholars have nicely analysed how advanced liberal governments work through promoting the self-managing capacities of individuals, they have paid scant attention to how such regimes also operate through practices of exclusion…

…Racial Prescriptions continues my examination of the politics of race in the United States. However, instead of dealing with the domain of immigration, it analyses the field of pharmaceutical production and marketing. The book is intended as a contribution to the rethinking of race and biopower in the genomic age. In The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault remarks that biopower designates “what brought life and its mechanisms into the realm of explicit calculations and made knowledge-power an agent of transformation of human life” (1980: 143). Biopower thus points to how political and other authorities have assigned themselves the duty of administering bodies and managing collective life. Building on Foucault’s work, scholars such as Paul Rabinow and Nikolas Rose (2006) have sought to rethink biopower for the 21st century by taking into account developments in the genetic and biological sciences. They suggest that new knowledges of life have fundamentally altered society’s capacity to engineer human vitality. Specifically, the molecularisation of life—that is, the understanding of life at the level of genes and molecules—has led to the envisioning of biological existence as a collection of intelligible vital elements that can be identified, isolated, controlled, mobilised, and reassembled. As such, life is no longer seen as natural or immutable destiny, but envisioned as inherently manipulable and re-formable. From this perspective, biopower today is about controlling and managing human biological processes in order to prevent disease, enhance health, and optimise the quality of individual and collective existence…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , , ,

Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2016-08-17 02:16Z by Steven

Eyes Wide Cut: The American Origins of Korea’s Plastic Surgery Craze

The Wilson Quarterly
Fall 2015

Laura Kurek

South Korea’s obsession with cosmetic surgery can be traced back to an American doctor, raising uneasy questions about beauty standards.

At sixteen stories high, the doctor’s office looms over the neon-colored metropolis. Within the high-rise, consultation offices, operating rooms, and recovery suites occupy most floors. Additional floors house a dental clinic, a rooftop lounge, and apartments for long-term stays. This is Beauty Korea (BK), a one-stop, full-service plastic surgery facility in the heart of Seoul, South Korea.

South Korea has an obsession with plastic surgery. One in five South Korean women has undergone some type of cosmetic procedure, compared with one in twenty in the United States. With plastic surgery’s staggering rise in popularity, an attractive physical appearance is now the sine qua non for a successful career. Undergoing surgery to achieve an employable face in South Korea is just as commonplace as going to the gym in America.

The most popular surgery is Asian blepharoplasty, the process of changing the Asian eyelid, commonly referred to as the “monolid,” into a double eyelid. The second is rhinoplasty, or a nose job. The prevalence of these two procedures, especially the “double-eyelid” operation, has led to a delicate question: Are South Koreans are seeking to westernize their appearance? Cosmetic surgeons and scholars tread lightly around the issue. Some argue that Western culture — a broad and imperfect term — cannot claim “big eyes” as unique to its definition of beauty. Others note that only 50 percent of the Asian population is born with monolids. Some practitioners, including Dr. Hyuenong Park of OZ Cosmetic Clinic and Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Kenneth Steinsapir, deny altogether that double-eyelid surgery is intended to make its recipient appear more Western.

The story of an American surgeon in the postwar Korea of the 1950s, however, suggests otherwise…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives ed. by Richard Garcia (review)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Health/Medicine/Genetics, History, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-16 18:01Z by Steven

On Race and Medicine: Insider Perspectives ed. by Richard Garcia (review)

American Studies
Volume 55, Number 1, 2016
pages 163-164
DOI: 10.1353/ams.2016.0057

David Colón-Cabrera

ON RACE AND MEDICINE: Insider Perspectives. Edited by Richard Garcia. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2015.

The fields of anthropology and sociology, in addition to health sciences, have problematized the topic of race and medicine extensively. The dubious history of medical practice towards non-white bodies has left deep impacts on the manner in which biomedicine still speaks, treats, and cares for individuals who are not white. Medicine has its own white privilege problem in the way it often sets whiteness (and maleness) as the default body to research, treat, and care for. On Race and Medicine reflects on these challenges by providing an insight into the experiences of practitioners and researchers at the intersection of race and healthcare.

The book falls within the purview of current research and theory exploring the cultural, social, and political aspects of science. While the book does not specifically identify its aim and scope within Science and Technology Studies, it focuses on those involved in the production and practice of medicine. On Race and Medicine relies on narratives that characterize the multidisciplinary nature of medicine from the perspective of a diverse group of academics and health practitioners—though only a third are women. The book presents the experiences and trajectories of the collaborators and their induction to the topic of race within healthcare. Edited by Richard Garcia, the book’s four sections attempt to retrospectively challenge the manner in which health disparities have been evaluated in recent decades. The first section, Health Disparities, sets the tone by arguing how historical and environmental factors can help explain current health disparities. The Personal Essay presents the omnipresent effect that a racial and ethnic identity has in developing attitudes and behaviors towards healthcare. In Race and Medicine several collaborators reflect on their own biases, attitudes, privileges, and experiences at the intersection of race and medicine. Collaborators recount their challenging experiences encountering medicine while being an ethnic/racial other or being exposed to the ethnic/racial other. Finally, in Towards Solutions, the collaborators discuss the limitations that they deal with in their work and practice. The latter sections are the core of the book since they answer the editor’s central question: “But is this form—rather than the traditional writing of social science or public health—useful, or even necessary?” (31). The use of “forensic chapters” (4) by the collaborators exemplify the manner in which medicine deals with the lived experiences of ethnic and racial minorities, and invite the reader to reflect on those challenges.

Garcia and collaborators seem to be writing for health professionals who are reticent to appreciate the value of personal essays as a narrative tool to explain the complexity of race and healthcare. The editor makes a compelling, though limited, argument supporting the study of health disparities in the US. On Race and Medicine relies on an abundance of sociological and anthropological knowledge, but the editor’s discussions referencing these disciplines could have benefitted from more depth; for example, on pages 4–5 Garcia states: “I imagine the topic of health disparities as a section in a syllabus of an American studies course, along with the other sections that consider race in America.” He appears to overlook the fact that fields in anthropology, sociology, the humanities and public health have crafted entire programs and courses that examine race and medicine in a holistic manner. Similarly, Garcia’s exhortation, “I’d call for a moratorium on disparities studies if anyone were listening. We know. They exist. Enough studies already. Now let’s fix them” (160) misses the point by inadvertently minimizing the scholarship of the aforementioned disciplines.

Garcia and collaborators provide contrasting and dynamic insights that challenge some of the notions of race and healthcare in a very personal way. The value of this book lies in the personal contributions alluding to the diversity of socioeconomics and relative privilege within ethnic and racial communities, and their influence on health-seeking behaviors and attitudes. At the end of the book, in regard to the challenges that the interaction of race and healthcare cause, Garcia poses the question “What can I do?” (166). This seems an unspoken call…

Tags: , , ,

The Misuse of Race in Medical Diagnosis

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive on 2016-08-15 17:38Z by Steven

The Misuse of Race in Medical Diagnosis

Pediatrics: Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics
May 2004, Volume 113 / Issue 5

Richard S. Garcia

I am a 39-year-old Hispanic male born in Stockton, Calif, to a mother who—after many years of unwise eating—has recently been diagnosed with diabetes and to a father I didn’t know who floated away at the end of a needle in his sister’s garage. I prefer being called Mexican to Hispanic, though I’ve never been to Mexico. I eat a fat American’s diet. Speak American English. Although I don’t smoke, I have been living in a big city with polluted air. An American city where I recently was an assistant professor of pediatrics, working in a profession that tries to define my indefinable race without asking for my input.

I helped train medical students and residents who are all taught, as I was when I was a medical student, to assess each patient first in terms of age, race, and gender. Always in that order. A 52-year-old white female, a 3-month-old Asian male, a 39-year-old Hispanic male. The actual identity of patients remains ignored: A 47-year-old African American female—who’s never been to Africa and prefers to call herself black if ever asked by a white doctor, though none ever asks—two-pack-a-day smoker, still living with her mother in South Central Los Angeles, presents with fatigue.

The doctor asks the patient—or the parent of the patient, if you’re a pediatrician—for his or her age. The gender is determined during the physical examination…

Read or purchase the article here.

Tags: , , ,