Tag Archives: race

Depicting simultaneously similarity, diversity, ancestry, and admixture?

Can any depiction of genetic relationships among humans allow simultaneously for similarity, diversity, ancestry, and admixture (i.e., groups that had split mixing again)? I asked this question while puzzling over the messages conveyed by diagrams from the work of Tishkoff and collaborators on genetic variation among humans in and out of Africa. In this talk I present explorations of alternative depictions of human genetic variation keeping my initial question in mind. By the end I will have prepared the ground for an assertion that the very methodology of generating and depicting human ancestry privileges a racialized view of human diversity.
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Responding to recurrent claims that science now shows race has a biological basis

This podcast examines several kinds of conceptual problems that have not been addressed by scientists and other commentators who claim, as happens every few years, that science now shows race has a biological basis (mp3 22 mins)
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Changing Life: Reading the Intersections of Gender, Race, Biology, and Literature (Open Courseware version)

An Open Courseware version of a Spring 2017 graduate course in which students developed their abilities to expose ways that scientific knowledge has been shaped in contexts that are gendered, racialized, economically exploitative, and hetero-normative. The course used a Project-Based Learning format that allowed students to shape their own directions of inquiry in each project, development of skills, and collegial support. Students’ learning was guided by individualized bibliographies co-constructed with the instructors, the inquiries of the other students, and a set of tools and processes for literary analysis, inquiry, reflection, and support.

Four steps to interpret and move beyond nature-nurture (for a handbook on environmental studies)

My four steps to interpret and move beyond nature-nurture for the current draft of a 1500-word entry for a handbook on environmental studies: Continue reading

Depictions of human genetic relationships

Science writer, Nicholas Wade, and philosopher Nevan Sesardic, among others have argued that Rosenberg et al’s division of human genetic diversity into reasonably distinct clusters (depicted as bands of color in their diagrams) shows that human racial divisions have a biological basis after all.  Some lines of critical inquiry that I would recommend: Continue reading

Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology (syllabus for 2015 graduate course)

Many links won’t work because they point to a blog accessible only to the students in the course.

Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology

A Problem-Based Learning Approach

Spring 2015

Graduate Consortium of Women’s Studies

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50 whys to look for genes: 39. Assign humans to groups that arose after dispersal from Africa

Population geneticist, Richard Lewontin “found that the majority of the total genetic variation between humans (i.e., of the 0.1% of DNA that varies between individuals), 85.4%, is found within populations, 8.3% of the variation is found between populations within a ‘race’, and only 6.3% was found to account for the racial classification. Numerous later studies have confirmed his findings” (wikipedia). Critics of Lewontin, Continue reading

Day 1, 2015?—an attempt to address various comments from the taking stock session in a course on gender, race & the complexities ofscience, technology

Course: grst.wikispaces.umb.edu

Getting going on learning tools to use to make connections and contributions to a topic Continue reading

A lesson in race, genes, and IQ

“Some people suggest that race is coded in genes and genes determine IQ test scores. A slightly less simple but similar supposition is that differences among races are associated with differences in genes that people have, which, in turn, are associated with differences in IQ test scores. Yet everyone has a sense that such claims are controversial. What should you think about them?”
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What’s the use of it? (Complex maps of science in society)

After a graduate class in which students presented maps they had made of the complex intersections surrounding ideas about genes, race, families, identity, society, business, science,… the question arose of what does one do next. Here are some responses of mine:

1. Look for “an aspect of the map’s complexity that engages you most. Or… look for a path on which you can move through the complexity while turning to the side from time to time so you do not lose sight of the wider terrain” (Taylor & Szteiter 2012, 110ff). This is the question we asked of each students after they described their maps.

2. Interrogate the maps further, with a view to exposing more connections and, perhaps, the mycelium under the visible mushrooms. In the context of this PBL case, we might ask probing questions, such as:

a. How do the data collected limit the questions asked?

b. What meaning of genetic is in play in each instance?

c. What is the social infrastructure (e.g., surveillance, monitoring, ..) that is implied by the use (now or in some future scenario) of the science being pursued?

d. Where does this item sit in relation to the tension that rises when we want to “shift the focus from group membership to heterogeneous pathways without bolstering the fiction that racial group membership no longer brings social benefits and costs”? (Taylor 2009)

e. Which of these four aspects of racial distinctions are being addressed: similarity, diversity, ancestry, and admixture?

etc. (For some themes to rephrase as questions, see Taylor 2009)

3. Establish spaces in which people can choose to take time away from more directed and feasible directions of research and activism to explore the wider realm of issues that they had been backgrounding or leaving unnoticed. (See discussion of refractive practice and CPR spaces.)

4. Include #1, 2, and 3 in a more ambitious endeavor— “enactable social theorizing,” described in an incomplete and unedited thought piece. In brief, the ideal is to embrace:

heterogeneity, shifting associations, and contingency… bring[ing] the multiple strandedness of changing social life into the center (as against being the variation or noise around the deeper [more essential] Social Dynamics [capitalization deliberate here])… shift[ing] the focus from shaping a better social theory to allowing for social theorizing, as well as from representing social dynamics to enacting social theorizing in the form of repeatedly defining and pursuing engagements in the heterogeneous dynamics that intersect in all kinds of society-making.

Taylor, P. J. (2009). “Infrastructure and Scaffolding: Interpretation and Change of Research Involving Human Genetic Information.” Science as Culture, 18(4):435-459.
— and J. Szteiter (2012). Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement Arlington, MA, The Pumping Station, 2012.