What's the Use of Race?: Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference (MIT Press)

What's the Use of Race?: Modern Governance and the Biology of Difference (MIT Press)

Language: English

Pages: 313

ISBN: B0058W1M7U

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.



















Biopolitics Michel Foucault (1980) used the term biopolitics to describe the increasing concern by modern states with managing and measuring human populations as well as the treatment of such populations as a resource and object of administrative rule. Building on this influential concept, I suggest that the inclusion-and-difference paradigm can be understood as an example of a biopolitical paradigm, a term meant to suggest how practices of governance and scientific investigation have become

race/ethnicity, and confounding in case-control association studies. American Journal of Human Genetics 76:268–275. Tutton, R., A. Smart, R. Ashcroft, P. Martin, and G. T. H. Ellison. 2010. From self-identity to genotype: The past, present and future of ethnic categories in post-genomic science. In What’s the use of race? Modern governance and the Biology of Difference, ed. Ian Whitmarsh and David S. Jones. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Walsh, C., and L. F. Ross. 2003. Whether and why pediatric

self-identified ethnicity. Ostensibly, the notion of genetic ethnicity conflicts with definitions of ethnicity that emphasize sociocultural practice, although it should be noted that shared ancestry and genealogy are prominent in sociological discussions of the concept (Fenton 2003). However, it seems clear that genetic ethnicity is not invoked by geneticists as a conceptual challenge to ethnicity as a sociocultural and political concept per se, but rather as a semantic sleight of hand, which

and communication strategy documents for CARTaGENE, from which the preceding quote is taken, offer insight into how institutions are reflexively engaging with the competing discourses of difference that population genomics projects elicit. For example, the first goal in the brainstorming session for the biobank’s public theme was to put it in harmony with its recruitment campaign objective and offer the public “something catchy” (Lévesque 2007a, 1). This catchy teaser for the public is

response to recent debates about and arguments against the use of race in biomedical genetics research, some geneticists have attempted to construct technologies for finding diseaserelated genetic markers without employing notions of race or ethnicity. Through ethnographic methods, Fujimura and colleagues investigate these attempts and focus, in particular, on the work of medical and population geneticists who emphasize that they are accounting for population differences due to different

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