Roundtable - Invited Status Awarded
Invited by: General Anthropology Division
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Race
Secondary Theme: Science
Anthropology has long worked towards promoting a widespread public understanding of the “social construction of race,” pointing out that a category that has and continues to change based on historical, sociopolitical, and national contexts is only ideologically upheld by appeals to genes, biology, and science. While the circulation of scientific racism is not new (Charles Murray and Richard Herrnstein’s polemical The Bell Curve was published nearly 25 years ago), Koch -funded institutes, now housed at hundreds of universities across the country, are reinvigorating scholarship (and teaching classes) promoting not only the “unavoidable” connection between race and IQ, but also a return to eugenic thought. At the University of Arizona’s “Freedom Center,” for example, Jonathan Anomaly titles one such publication, “If You’re Reading This Essay, You Should Probably Have (More) Children.”
In this roundtable, we ask: How can we draw on a wide range of scholarship to trace and connect the misuse of science across different historical contexts? How can we identify and effectively address the tenacious nature of the belief in biological justifications to claims of racial superiority and the dangerous appeal of scientific racism? How do we respond to David Reich’s recent and now widely-publicized claims that due to recent advances in DNA sequencing technology, it is “no longer possible to ignore average genetic differences among ‘races?’”
Given the pervasive and entrenched nature of institutional racism and the direct connections to social policy often made or implied by scientific research (and the part of anthropologists in this legacy), our discipline cannot ignore the call to public engagement. For those scholars who teach and do research on the topic of race and inequality across the subfields of anthropology, this panel presents an urgent interdisciplinary conversation on how to respond to, and shape, public understandings of race, science, public policy, and justice.
This interdisciplinary roundtable brings together scholars who work on the intersection of race and science from the fields of population genetics and evolutionary science, science and technology studies, law, sociology, Africana studies, women’s studies, bioarcheology, biological anthropology, and cultural anthropology.
Roundtable participants include:
Joseph Graves: author of The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium and The Race Myth: Why We Pretend Race Exists in America.
Dorothy Roberts: author of Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the Twenty-First Century.
Jenny Reardon: author of The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome and Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics.
Ann Kakaliouras: author of “Race is… Only as Race Does: Essentialism and Ethnicity in (Bio)archaeology and Skeletal Biology” (in SAA Archaeological Record)
Joseph Jones: co-author of Race: Are We So Different?
Rachel Watkins: author of “Biohistorical Narratives of Racial Difference in the American Negro: Notes toward a Nuanced History of American Physical Anthropology” (in Current Anthropology)
Yolanda Moses: co-author of How Real is Race: A Sourcebook on Race, Culture and Biology and Race: Are We So Different?