Thursday, August 21, 2008

Race in Science

Science receives much of its authority from the perception that it is based on "objective" examination of data through the scientific method. Yet, when it comes to race, science has been anything but objective. A great example of this is Stepehen Jay Gould's classic work, The Mismeasure of Man, which attacks the racist science of Eugenics at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries and demonstrates the way the white supremacist biases of scientists influenced their research. It is a great book, accessible and important.

In a similar, but more contemporary vein, a group of historians at the University of Toronto has created a website, "Racesci," which, in their own words:

is a resource for scholars and students interested in the history of "race" in science, medicine, and technology. RaceSci is dedicated to encouraging critical, anti-racist and interdisciplinary approaches to our understanding of the production and uses of "race" as a concept within the history of science. Instead of assuming race as a natural category that science then uncovers, this site assembles scholarly works that look at how cultural processes of racialization have profoundly shaped knowledge about humanness, health, and even our understanding of "nature" itself. The aim of RaceSci is to serve as a catalyst and support for the increased critical study of "race" and science amongst students and researchers by bringing together in a common forum the interdisciplinary English-language literature on the topic, with a particular strength in U.S. history. In addition, RaceSci tracks the continuing history of "race" in contemporary science and its reporting in the media. For scholars, the site provides samples of university syllabi and announcements of events.
The site contains lots of interesting resources.

Check it out!

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