Thu April 15, 2021 from 4 to 5:30 pm: David Gresham (NYU Biology)
The history of race as a scientific concept
The session will be followed by two parallel debrief sessions (5:30-6 PM): a general in the same Zoom as the lecture, and one for trainees that focuses on the recommended readings, organized by NeuroPIL.
Race, it is commonly claimed, is a social construct of no biological significance. Yet, since the 1700s scientists have attempted to classify human populations into discrete groups. In this lecture, I will examine the history of race as a scientific concept and consider its abuses and misapplications. I will examine the cultural and historical context of scientific approaches to classifying humans into racial groups starting with Linnea us and Darwin. I willl examine the abuses of race-based science manifest in the eugenics movement in the UK and USA and in Nazi Germany and explore how an academic discipline can become a justification for oppression and genocide. I will introduce the use of racial classifications in contemporary science and medicine through a historical lens. I will examine the utility of racial classification in identifying the genes that underlie human disease and understanding human history and variation in human behavior. My lecture will address the questions: "Can we differentiate between race-based science and racist science? Is race-based science of potential use? Or, in order to avoid racism must we avoid race in science?
1. Yudell, Michael, Dorothy Roberts, Rob DeSalle, and Sarah Tishkoff. 2016. "Taking Race Out of Human Genetics." Science 351:564-565.
2. Yudell, Michael, Dorothy Roberts, Rob DeSalle, and Sarah Tishkoff. 2020. "NIH must confront the use of race in science." Science 369:1313.
3. Duncen et al. 2019. Analysis of polygenic risk score usage and performance in diverse human populations.