RaceSci
Syllabi
RaceSci

 

Race in the Bio-Medical Construction of "Woman"
Women Studies 420, Fall 1998
Michelle Murphy, Cornell University
(o)255-6177, (h)564-0478
Office: 119 Stimpson Hall



COURSE DESCRIPTION

What is "race"? How has it been constructed as a scientific
object?  What work does it do in defining "woman"?   Using
feminist theory and historical case studies, this course
critically explores the cultural work of "race" in
scientific constructions of "woman" with a concentration on
twentieth century America.  Race is deeply inscribed in the
ways biomedicine conceives of and deals with women's bodies,
both white women and women of color.  Rather than asking,
"how has race affected women" -  a question which leaves
race unexamined - we will be turning a critical eye to the
very notion of race itself, asking " what kind of a category
was and is race?"  With this question as our starting point,
we will unpack the history of changing claims for a
biological underpinning for race and from there go on to
untangle the work "race" has done to define difference
amongst women.   This is a very difficult task, not just
because the relationship between race and gender is complex
and fraught with tension, but also because the history of
"race", framed in this manner, remains largely unwritten. 
With the help of the readings and class discussion, the goal
of this class will be to begin to piece together this yet
untold history, and even to develop new questions and
methods for doing so.  To give our task focus, we will read
feminist theory on the relationships between race, gender,
and difference against historical case studies, which will
include: the early history of gynecology, eugenics, the
early twentieth century feminist  birth control movement, 
reproductive politics and African American feminism in 1980s
and 1990s, the politics of genetic and cultural arguments
for breast cancer , and the politics of AIDS. 


CLASS ASSIGNMENTS
Since the history of "race" as a concept and its convergence
with the history of "woman" is yet largely unwritten, this
course depends upon many readings that must be critically
read against their grain.   This course requires students to
read CAREFULLY, to take notes on the readings, and to
develop their critical skills through group discussions and
group presentations. Therefore, class participation, will
be valued highly. In addition, each week students will be
asked to volunteer to be responsible for a particular
reading and to be prepared to help guide the discussion the
next week.    Students are encouraged to  bring
refreshments or snacks 

class participation 15%
A set of notes you are particularly proud of 5%

1 group presentation 20%
The class will be divided into groups of 3 or 4.  Each group
will be responsible for one group presentation on an
assigned  day.  Presentations are weighted heavily, and
should be treated with the seriousness of a paper. Do not
summarize the readings.  Groups are encouraged to respond to
the issues raised by comparing the readings, to add
information to the session from their own research, and to
experiment with modes of presentation and narration.  Raise
and respond to pivotal concepts, or build up to them, or
move back and forth between them exposing conceptual
patterns and tensions. Try to go farther than the readings,
read them against their grain, or articulate things they
only point to. 

2 short response papers (5 pages) 15% each=  30%
No extensions.  If your group presentation is on a day in
which a paper is due, the  paper will be due the following
week. 

Final "found object" research paper (10 pages) 30%



Week 1, Sept. 1:  INTRODUCTION
Lecture: On the Historicity of Race 


Week 2, Sept. 8:   "RACE" AS A SCIENTIFIC OBJECT

Gould, Stephen Jay, "American Polygeny and Craniometry
  before Darwin: Blacks and Indians as Separate, Inferior
  Species," in Sandra Harding, ed., The Racial Economy of
  Science (Bloomington: Indiana Press, 1993): 84-115.

Nancy Leys Stepan and Sander Gilman, "Appropriating the
  Idioms of Science: The Rejection of Scientific Racism,"
  in Sandra Harding, ed., The Racial Economy of Science
  (Bloomington: Indiana Press, 1993): 170-93.

Harding, Sandra, " 'Strong Objectivity' and Socially
  Situated Knowledge,"in Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?
  Thinking From Women's Lives (Ithaca: Cornell University
  Press, 1991): 138-63.

Donna Haraway, "Situated Knowledge: The Science Question in
  Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective," in
  Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature
  (New York, Routledge 1991): 183-201.


Week 3, Sept. 15: THE HISTORICITY OF "WOMAN" AND ITS INTERSECTION WITH "RACE"

Denise Riley,  'Am I that Name?': Feminism and the Category
  of "Women" in History, (London: Macmillan Press, 1988):
  1-17.

Russet, Cynthia. "Up and Down the Phyletic Ladder," in 
  Sexual Science: The Victorian Construction of Womanhood.
  (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1989): 49-77.

Schiebinger, Londa, "Theories of Gender and Race," in
  Nature's Body" Gender in the Making of Modern Science.
  (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993):143-183.

Fausto-Sterling, Anne, "Gender, Race, and Nation: The
  Comparative Anatomy of 'Hottentot' women in Europe:
  1815-1817," in J. Terry and J. Urla, eds., Deviant
  Bodies (Bloomington: Indiana University Press,
  1995):19-48.

Optional:

Gilman, Sander, "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an
  Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late
  Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature,"  
  Critical Inquiry 12 (Autumn 1985): 204-242.


Week 4, Sept. 22: RACE AND GYNECOLOGY 

Sims, J. Marion, The Story of my Life, H. Marion-Sims, ed.,
  (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1894): 222-246.

Sims, J. Marion, " Treatment of Vesico-Vaginal Fistula,
  American Journal of the Medical Sciences (1852): 59-82.

Kapsalis, Terri, "Mastering the Female Pelvis: Race and the
  Tools of Reproduction, " in  Public Privates: Performing
  Gynecology from Both Ends of the Speculum.  (Durham:
  Duke University Press, 1997):31-49.

Morrison, Toni, "The Site of Memory," in R. Ferguson,
  et.al., ed., Out There (New York: New Museum of
  Contemporary Art, 1990): 289-305.

Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll  and Charles Rosenberg, "The Female
  Animal: Medical and Biological Views of Woman and Her
  Role in Nineteenth-Century America, " in Judith Walzer
  Leavitt, ed. Women and Health in America (Madison,
  Universit yof Wisconsin Press, 1984): 12-27.

Roberts, Dorothy, "Reproduction in Bondage," in Killing the
  Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of
  Liberty (New York: Pantheon Books, 1997): 22-55.


Week 5, Sept. 29: EUGENICS, MOTHERHOOD, AND FEMINISM 
*First Short Paper Due*

Paul, Diane. Chapters 2, 4, and 6 in Controlling Human
  Heredity: 1865- the Present (New Jersey: Humanities
  Press, 1995): 22-39, 50-71, 97-114.

Hasian, Marouf Arif, Jr., "Race and African American
  Interpretations of Eugenics," in The Rhetoric of
  Eugenics in Anglo American Thought. (Athens: University
  of Georgia Press, 1996): 51-88.

Davenport, Charles B. The Trait Book, Bulletin No. 6 ( Cold
  Spring Harbor: Eugenics Record Office, 1912).

Galton, Francis, " The Comparative Worth of Different Races,
  " in Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into its Laws and
  Consequences (New York: Horizon Press,1952[1892]
  ):325-337 and "Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope and Aims"
  in Essays in Eugenics (1909): 35-43.


Week 6, Oct. 6: FEMINISM, REPRODUCTION AND RACE I

Gordon, Linda. Woman's Body, Woman's Right: Birth Control in
  America, chapters 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, & 12. (New York:
  Penguin Books, 1974).

Sanger, Margaret, "The Materials of the New Race," in  Woman
  and the New Race. (Fairview Park: Maxwell Reprint
  Company, 1969 [1920]): 30-46.

Sanger, Margaret, " Birth Control and Racial Betterment,"
  The Birth Control Review (Feb. 1919): 11-12.


OCTOBER 13th - No classes (Fall Break)


Week 7, Oct.20: THE RETREAT OF SCIENTIFIC RACISM

Barkan, Elazar, The Retreat of Scientific Racism, last
  chapter and epilogue.

Michael Omi and Howard Winant, "Racial Formation" in Racial
  Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the
  1990s, Second Edition. (New York:

Peggy Pascoe, " Micegenation Law, Court Cases, and
  Ideologies of "Race" in Twentieth-Century America,"
  Journal of American History (June 1996): 44-69.

One of the following:

Benedict, Ruth, Race and Racism (London: Routledge & Kegan
  Paul, 1983 [orig. pub. 1942])

Boas, Franz, "New Evidence in Regard to the Instability of
  Human Types" and "Some Criticisms of Physical
  Anthropology" in Race, Language, and Culture (Chicago:
  University of Chicago Press, 1940): 77-81, 164-71.

DuBois, W.E.B., The Health and Physique of the Negro
  American (1906)

Mead, Margaret, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Ethel Tobach, &
  Robert Light, eds.,  Science and the Concept of Race
  (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968).

Myrdal, Gunnar, "Chapter 4: Racial Beliefs," "Chapter 5:
  Race and Ancestry," and "Chapter 6: Race
  Characteristics," in An American Kilemma: The Negro
  Problem and Modern Democracy, vol1 (New York:
  Harper&"Brothers, 1944): 83-153.

UNESCO "Statement on Race" (1950), "Statement on the Nature
  of Race and Race Differences" (1951),  "Proposals on the
  Biological Aspects of Race" (1964), "Statement on Race
  and Racial Prejudice," (1967) in Ashley Montagu, ed.,
  Statement on Race (New York: Oxford University Press,
  1972).

UNESCO, What is Race? (Paris: UNESCO Department of Mass
  Communication, 1952).

UNESCO, The Race Question in Modern Science, (New York,
  UNESCO, 1956)


Week 8, Oct. 27: WHITENESS
*Second Response Paper Due*
Group Presentation

"Introduction: Points of Origin, Points of Departure," in
  White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of
  Whiteness. (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,
  1993): 1-18.

Piper, Adrian, "Passing for White Passing for Black," in Out
  of Order, Out of Sight (Cambridge: MIT Press,
  1996):275-307.

Elizabeth Hales, "Domestic Reconstruction: White Homes,
  'Black Mammies,' and 'New Women'" in Making Whiteness:
  The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-194.  (New
  York: Pantheon Books, 1998): 85-119

Roediger, David "From the Social Construction of Race to the
  Abolition of Whiteness," in Racial Classification and
  History (New York: Garland Publishing, 1997): 345-61.


Week 9, Nov. 3: "WOMAN" AND DIFFERENCE, BREAST CANCER PART I
Group Presentation

Lorde, Audre, The Cancer Journals (Argyle, NY: Spinsters
  Ink, 1980.)

Lorde, Audre, "Age, Race, Class, And Sex: Women Redefining
  Difference," in  Sister Outsider (Freedom, CA: Crossing
  Press, 1984)

Grosz, Elizabeth, "Conclusion: A Note on Essentialism and
  Difference," in Sneja Gunew, ed., Feminist Knowledge
  (London: Routledge, 1990):332-44.

Trinh Minh Ha, "Difference: 'A Special Third World Women
  Issue'" in women, Native, Other (Bloomington, Indiana
  University Press, 1989): 79-116.


Week 10, Nov. 10: FEMINISM, REPRODUCTION AND RACE II

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade, "Feminist Encounters: Locating the
  Politics of Experience" Copyright 1 (1987):30-44..

Collins, Patricia "The Social Construction of Black Feminist
  Thought" in Black Women in America: Social Science
  Perspectives (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
  1990):297-325.

Higginbotham, " African-American Women's History and the
  Metalanguage of Race," (1992) Signs 17 (21): 251-74.

One from the following:

Davis, Angela, "Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive
  Rights," Women, Race & Class (New York: Random House,
  1981): 202-221.

Davis, Angela, "Sick And Tired of Being Sick and Tired: The
  Politics of Black Women's Health," in Women, Culture, &
  Politics (New York: Random House, 19 ): 53-65.

Ross, Loretta, "African American Women and Abortion," in
  Ricki Solinger, ed.,  Abortion Wars: A Half Century of
  Struggle, 1950-2000 (Berkeley: University of California
  Press, 1998):161-207.

Avery, Byllye, "A Question of Survival/ A Conspiracy of
  Silence: Abortion and Black Women's Health," in Marlene
  Gerber Fried, ed., From Abortion to Reproductive
  Freedom: Transforming a Movement. (Boston: South End
  Press, 1990): 75-81.

Roberts, Dorothy, "The Dark Side of Birth Contol" in Killing
  the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of
  Liberty (New York: Pantheon Books, 1997): 56-103.


Week 11, Nov.17:  RACE, DISEASE, AND GENETICS, BREAST CANCER
  PART II
Group Presentation

Wahrman, Miryam, "The Breast Cancer Genes: A Devastating
  Jewish Legacy," JCN
  (www.juc.18.com/newstand/warhman/cancer.htm)

Stolberg, Sheryl Gay, "Concern Among Jews is Heightened As
  Scientists Deepen Gene Studies," New York Times, April
  22, (1998):A24.

Duster, Troy. " "Inherited Genetic Disorder and Inherited
  Social Orders,"  and "The Genetic Screening of 'Target'
  Populations," in Backdoor to Eugenics (New York:
  Routledge, 1990).

Cavallli-Sforza, Luca, Paolo Menozzi, Alberto Piazza,  The
  History and Geography of Human Genes (Princeton:
  Princeton University Press, 1994) : 1-25.

"Declaration of Indigenous Peoples of the Western
  Hemisphere,"  Cultural Survival Quarterly (Summer 1996):
  63.

Haraway, Donna, " Race: Universal Donors in a Vampire
  Culture" in Modest
  Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouse
  (New York: Routledge, 1997): 213-265.

Optional:

Joann Gutin, "End of the Rainbow",  Discover (Nov. 1994):
  71-75.

Indigenous Peoples Coalition Against Biopiracy web page.
  (http://www.niec.net/ipcb)

Provine, William, "Genetics and Race," American Zoology 26
  (1986): 857-887.

Cooper, Richard. "The Biological Concept of Race and Its
  Application to Public Health and Epidemiology," Journal
  of Health Politics, Policy and Law, vol. 11, (Spring
  1986): 97-116.


Week 12: Nov. 24: NEW RACE IN OLD BODIES - BREAST CANCER
  PART III

Krieger, Nancy and Elizabeth Fee, "Man-Made Medicine and
  Women's Health: The Biopolitics of Sex/Gender and
  Race/Ethnicity" in Kary Moss, ed.,  Man-Made Medicine:
  Women's Health , Public Policy and Refrom (Durham: Duke
  University Press, 1996): 15-35.

Williams, David, Risa Lavizzo-Mourney, and Rueben Warren, "
  The Concept of Race and Health Status in America"
  reprinted in Nathaniel Gates, ed., The Concept of "Race
  in Natural and Social Science (New York: Garland,
  1997):204-19.

Krieger, Nancy, "Social Class and Black/White Crossover in
  the Age-specific Incidence of Breast Cancer, " American
  Journal of Epidemiology  131 (1990) : 804-14.

"Black Women Delay Breast Cancer Treatment", UPI Science
  News,  June 9, 1998.

"Research or Racism" Harper's Magazine (Sept. 1997): 18.


Week 13,  Dec. 1: AIDS AND THE POLITICS OF RACE

Hammonds, Evelynn, "Missing Persons: African American Women,
  AIDS, and the History of Disease, " Radical America 20
  (1986):7-23.

Farmer, Paul, "AIDS and Racism: Accusation in the Center,"
  and "AIDS and Empire: Accusation in the Periphery," in
  AIDS and Accusation -- Haiti and the Geography of Blame
  (Berkeley: California, 1992): 208-43.

Simon Watney, "Missionary Positions: AIDS, "Africa," and
  Race, " in R. Ferguson, et. al., eds.,  Out There (New
  York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1990): 89-103.
  
Home page