Science and Race
History of Science 153
MW 11-12; Sever Hall 214
Spring 2002 Instructor: Professor Charis Thompson
Office Hours: Thursday 12-2p.m., and by appointment
Office: Science Center 225
Phone: 617 - 496 3366
Email: thomps7@fas.harvard.edu

This class will explore sciences *of* race, or the way that science has been used to designate, as well as show the fictitiousness of, racial categories. It will also consider science *and* race, looking at such iconic cases as Tuskegee, Nazi science, genetic studies of radiation exposure in Japan, AIDS, indigenous knowledges, and DECODE in Iceland. The final section will look at scientists and race, including a consideration of prominent scientists of color, and an examination of the patterns of and reasons for the racial distribution of scientists over time.


There is a reader which should be available for purchase by the end of the fourth week of classes.
In addition, the following books are required:

Barkan, Elazar, 1992. The Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gosset, Thomas. (1963) 1997. Race: The History of an Idea in America (New Edition). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Graves, Joseph, 2001. The Emperor's New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millennium. Rutgers University Press.

Harding, Sandra, ed. 1993. The "Racial" Economy of Science: Toward a Democratic Future. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Lie, John, 2001. Multi-Ethnic Japan. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Visvanathan, Shiv, 1997. A Carnival for Science: Essays on Science, Technology, and Development.

Readings for first written assignment:

Boas, Franz, 1912. "The History of the American Race." Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Vol. XX1, 177-183

UNESCO. 1950. "Statement on Race," in Statement on Race. Ashley Montagu, ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1972, 7-13.


Participation: 20% of final grade
You should take 1-2 pages of notes, which can be hand-written, on the reading for each class, showing that you have read and understood the content. Questions about, reactions, to, or disagreements with, the reading are welcome. These notes are due in the class for which they are assigned. These notes will be read by the instructor but will not be graded individually. They help me assign the participation portion of the grade and they should help you to stay on track with the reading. You can miss two sets of notes without penalty or explanation. You can make up missed notes at any point in the semester if there is a legitimate reason why you were unable to complete them in time.

There are two written assignments.

1. Midterm paper. You must write a paper using one or both of these primary documents, The UNESCO "Statements on Race" from 1950, and Franz Boas' 1912 "The History of the American Race". These papers will be available for you to copy in the department of the History of Science. A choice of guiding questions will be distributed in class on Wednesday 13th March, and the essays are due the following Wednesday, 20th March. 30% of final grade.

2. Final exam. You can petition to substitute a research paper (~15pp) in place of the final exam. If you choose a paper, it should be on a topic of your own choosing, in consultation with the instructor. 50% of the final grade.

Schedule of Classes:

Wednesday January 30: Introduction

Hand out syllabus. Introduction to the class themes; reading and thinking strategies for the class; administrative details.

Part I: The Science of Race: Constructing It; Deconstructing It; Afterlife

Monday February 4: The History of Race in America

Gossett, Race, pp. 3-175

Wednesday February 6: Religion vs. Science

Gossett, Race, pp. 176-309

Monday February 11: Science, Race, Eugenics

Gould, Stephen Jay. 1993. "American Polygeny and Craniometry before Darwin: Blacks and Indians as Separate, Inferior Species," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 84-115.

Lewontin, R.C., Steven Rose, and Leon Kamin, 1993. "IQ: The Rank Ordering of the World," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 142-160

Wednesday February 13: Between the Wars: Struggling over the Science of Race

Barkan, Reatreat of Scientific Racism, 66-176

If not available, please read

Graves, The Emperor's New Clothes, 140-153

Monday February 18 - No class: President's Day holiday

Wednesday February 20: The Limits of the Science of Race

Barkan, Retreat of Scientific Racism, 177-340

Stepan, Nancy Leys and Sander L. Gilman. 1991. "Appropriating the Idioms of Science: The Rejection of Scientific Racism," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 170-193

Monday February 25: Recalcitrance of Ethnicity

Lie, Multi-ethnic Japan, 27-141

Wednesday February 27: Race Lives On: Afterlife?

Graves, Emperor's New Clothes, 140-200

Monday March 4: Making the "Standard"

Jacobsen, Matthew Frye, 1998. Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 13-136

Wednesday March 6: Other Ways and Consequences of Doing Race

Bowker, Geoffrey, and Susan Leigh Star, 1999. Sorting Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 195-225

Graham, Richard, ed., 1990. The Idea of Race in Latin America, 1870-1940. El Paso: University of Texas Press, 1-5

Part II: Science and Race

Monday March 11: Nazi Science

Proctor, Robert, 1993. "Nazi Medicine and the Politics of Knowledge," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 344-358.

Weindling, Paul, 1999. "A Virulent Strain: German Bacteriology as Scientific Racism, 1890-1920," in Waltraud Ernst and Bernard Harris, eds., Race, Science and Medicine, 1700-1960. New York and London: Routledge, 218-234

Wednesday March 13: Atomic Science

Lindee, Susan, 1994. Suffering Made Real: American Science and the Survivors at Hiroshima. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3-79 and 169-215

Monday March 18: Natural History?

Fausto-Sterling, Anne, 1995. "Gender, Race, and Nation: The Comparative Anatomy of "Hottentot" Women in Europe, 1815-1817," in Jennifer Terry and Jacqueline Urla, eds., Deviant Bodies. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 19-48

Haraway, Donna, 1989. "The Biopolitics of a Multicultural Field," in the Racial Economy of Science, 377-397

Wednesday March 20: From Physics to Psychology

Morawski, Jill, 1997. "White Experimenters, White Blood, and Other White Conditions: Locating the Psychologist's Race," in Fine et al., eds., Off White: Readings on Race, Power, and Society. New York and London: Routledge, 13-28

Traweek, Sharon, 1993. "Cultural Differences in High-Energy Physics: Contrasts Between Japan and the United States," in Racial Economy of Science, 398-407

-Spring Break March 23-31-

Monday April 1: Race and Medicine I

Worboys, Michael, 1999. "Tuberculosis and Race in Britain and Its Empire, 1900-1950," in Waltraud Ernst and Bernard Harris, eds., Race, Science and Medicine, 1700-1960. New York and London: Routledge, 144-166

Jackson, Mark, 1999. "Changing Depictions of Disease: Race, Representation and the History of Mongolism," in Waltraud Ernst and Bernard Harris, eds., Race, Science and Medicine, 1700-1960. New York and London: Routledge, 167-188

Farmer, Paul, (1999) 2001. Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues (Updated Edition). Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 262-282

Inhorn, Marcia, and Frank van Balen, eds., 2002. Infertility Around the Globe: New Thinking on Chlidlessness, Gender, and Reproductive Technologies. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 3-30

Wednesday April 3: Race and Medicine II

Wailoo, Keith, 1997. Drawing Blood: Technology and disease Identity in Twentieth-Century America. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 134-161.

Tapper, Melbourne, 1999. In the Blood: Sickle Cell Anemia and the Politics of Race. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 12-28

Kreiger, Nancy and Mary Bassett. 1993. The Health of Black Folk: Disease, Class, and Ideology in Science. In The "Racial" Economy of Science, 161-169.

Jones, James. 1993. The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment: "A Moral Astigmatism." In The "Racial" Economy of Science, 275-286.

Monday April 8: Race and Medicine III

Landecker, Hannah. 2000. Immortality, In Vitro: A History of the HeLa Cell Line. In Biotechnology and Culture: Bodies, Anxieties, Ethics. Paul Brodwin, ed. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 53-72.

Haiken, Elizabeth, 1997. Venus Envy: A History of Cosmetic Surgery. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 175-227

Wednesday April 10: Genetics

Fortun, Michael, 2001. "Speculating on Iceland," Paper presented at the Society for the Social Studies of Science annual conference, Cambridge, MA, November 2001.
Reardon, Jenny, 2001. "The Human Genome Diversity Project: A Case Study in Coproduction." Social Studies of Science 31: 357-388

Haraway, Donna, 1997. Modest Witness@Second Millenium. FemaleMan Meets Oncomouse. New York and London: Routledge, 213-266

Monday April 15: Biotech and North / South Equity

Juma, Calestous, 1989. The Gene Hunters: Biotechnology and the Scramble for Seeds. Zed Books and Princeton University Books, 149-207

Shiva, Vandana, 1993. Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on biodiversity and Biotechnology. Third World Network and Zed Books, 65-94

Wednesday April 17: Race and Epistemology

Harding, Sandra. 1993. "Eurocentric Scientific Illiteracy - A Challenge for the World Community," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 1-22.

Hess, David, 1995. Science and Technology in a Multicultural World: The Cultural Politics of Facts and Artifacts. New York: Columbia University Press, 185-249

Visvanathan, Shiv, 1997. A Carnival for Science: Essays on Science, Technology, and Development. Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1-47

Monday April 22: Indigenous Knowledges

Gusterson, Hugh, 1996. "Nuclear Weapons Testing: Scientific Experiment as Political Ritual," in Laura Nader, ed., Naked Science: Anthropological Inquiry into Boundaries, Power, and Knowledge. New York and London: Routledge, 131-147

Scott, Colin, 1996. "Science for the Rest, Myth for the Rest? The Case of James Bay Cree Knowledge Construction," in Laura Nader, ed., Naked Science: Anthropological Inquiry into Boundaries, Power, and Knowledge. New York and London: Routledge, 69-86

Agrawal, Arun, 1995. "Dismantling the Divide Between Indigenous and Scientific Knowledge," Development and Change 26: 413-439

Part III: Scientists and Race: Is Science Open to All? Does One's Race Effect One's Science?

Wednesday April 24: The State of Play
Malcolm, Shirley. 1993. "Increasing the Participation of Black Women in Science and Technology," in The"Racial" Economy of Science, 249-253.

Wong, Cheuk-Yin. 2000. "The Los Alamos Incident and its Effects on Chinese-American Scientists," paper presented at the American Physical Society, April 29, 2000 at Long Beach, California, available online: www.ocpaweb.org/llnl/WongAPS.txt

Monday April 29: Black Apollos

Fouche, Rayvon, forthcoming. "Liars and Thieves: Granville T. Woods and the Process of Invention," Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Hine, Darlene Clark. 1993. "Co-Laborers in the Work of the Lord: Nineteenth Century Black Women Physicians," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 210-227.

Manning, Kenneth. 1993. "Ernest Everett Just: The Role of Foundation Support for Black Scientists, 1920-1929," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 228-238.

Sands, Aimee. 1993. "Never Meant to Survive: A Black Woman's Journey - An Interview with Evelynn Hammonds," in The "Racial" Economy of Science, 239-248.

Wednesday May 1: Technology

Williams,Linda, 2001. Playing the Race Card: Melodramas of Black and White from Uncle Tom to O.J. Simpson. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 252-295

Kolko, Beth, Lisa Nakamura, and Gilbert Rodman, eds., 2000. Race in Cyberspace. New York and London: Routledge, 1-13

Dyer, Richard, 1999. "Making 'White" People White," in MacKenzie, Donald, and Judy Wajcman, eds., The Social Shaping of Technology, Second Edition. Buckingham and Philadelphia: Open University Press, 134-137

Mimi Nguyen, "Tales of an Asiatic Geek Girl: Slant from Paper to Pixels," in Alondra, Thuy Linh, and Headlam Hines, eds., Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. New York and London: New York University Press, 177-190

Guillermo Gomez-Pena, "The Virtual Barrio @ the Other Frontier: (or The Chicano Interneta), in Alondra, Thuy Linh, and Headlam Hines, eds., Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. New York and London: New York University Press, 191-198

Gilroy, Paul, 1993. "Wearing Your Art on Your Sleeve: Notes Towards a Diaspora History of Black Ephemera," in Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Cultures. London: Serpent's Tail, 237-257

Reading Period May 4-15

Exams May 16-24


Home page