Science and Difference in History: Biology, Genetics, and the Politics of Race

AHA Session 79
Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Marriott Ballroom, Salon 3 (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)
Evelynn M. Hammonds, Harvard University
The Racial Politics of Genetic Genealogy and the Case of the GU 272
Alondra Nelson, Columbia University and Social Science Research Council

Session Abstract

Historians of science and race have long agreed on the basic proposition that race is a social and political construct rather than an objective scientific reality. In recent years, however, some scientists have reasserted the importance of approaching race as a biological and genetic fact, pointing to the ways in which such understandings can help track the evolution of populations and provide important epidemiological insights. The rise of new research in biomedical genomics in particular has focused new attention on the idea of race as a scientific reality. This panel will consider new scientific ideas about race, both locally and globally, and explore both their scientific bases and their political implications. To what extent does the new racial science differ from the old, and what insights does it offer for both scientists and historians concerned with the history of race in general?
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