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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What’s the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Books, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2010-06-24 03:56Z by Steven

What’s the Use of Race? Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference

The MIT Press
May 2010
7 x 9, 296 pp., 7 illus.
ISBN-10: 0-262-51424-9
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-51424-8

Edited by

Ian Whitmarsh, Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine
University of California, San Francisco

David S. Jones, Associate Professor of History and Culture of Science and Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The post–civil rights era perspective of many scientists and scholars was that race was nothing more than a social construction. Recently, however, the relevance of race as a social, legal, and medical category has been reinvigorated by science, especially by discoveries in genetics. Although in 2000 the Human Genome Project reported that humans shared 99.9 percent of their genetic code, scientists soon began to argue that the degree of variation was actually greater than this, and that this variation maps naturally onto conventional categories of race. In the context of this rejuvenated biology of race, the contributors to What’s the Use of Race? investigate whether race can be a category of analysis without reinforcing it as a basis for discrimination. Can policies that aim to alleviate inequality inadvertently increase it by reifying race differences?

The essays focus on contemporary questions at the cutting edge of genetics and governance, examining them from the perspectives of law, science, and medicine. The book follows the use of race in three domains of governance: ruling, knowing, and caring. Contributors first examine the use of race and genetics in the courtroom, law enforcement, and scientific oversight; then explore the ways that race becomes, implicitly or explicitly, part of the genomic science that attempts to address human diversity; and finally investigate how race is used to understand and act on inequities in health and disease. Answering these questions is essential for setting policies for biology and citizenship in the twenty-first century.

Contributors: Richard Ashcroft, Richard S. Cooper, Kjell A. Doksum, George T. H. Ellison, Steven Epstein, Joan H. Fujimura, Amy Hinterberger, Angela C. Jenks, David S. Jones, Jonathan Kahn, Jay S. Kaufman, Nancy Krieger, Paul Martin, Pilar N. Ossorio, Simon Outram, Ramya Rajagopalan, Dorothy Roberts, Pamela Sankar, Andrew Smart, Richard Tutton, Ian Whitmarsh

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