Noted scholar to examine racism, new racial science Nov. 15

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Rebecca Valli

Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and law, will address racism and the “new racial science” – and will propose a more ethical way to study race and racism – at the 2017 Institute for the Social Sciences’ Annual Lecture.

The lecture, “Racism and the New Racial Science,” will take place Nov. 15 at 4:30 p.m. in Klarman Hall’s Rhodes-Rawlings Auditorium. It is open to the public.

Roberts, a professor of Africana studies, sociology and law at the University of Pennsylvania, will address recent advances in scientific research, including a renewed interest in biological concepts of race and explanations of racial inequality.

The science that emerged from sequencing the human genome has been marked by investigations of race-based genetic difference and the redefinition of race as a genomic category. Roberts suggests the genomic era has generated collaborations between biological and social scientists that seek to link social outcomes to genetic traits. Even researchers who study the impact of social inequality on biological outcomes have tended to explain racial disadvantage in biological terms, she says.

Biological and social scientists developing a new racial science suppress the political implications of their research by distinguishing their objectivity and socially beneficial aims from scientific racism of the past. This lecture will critically examine the relationship between racism and the new racial science and propose a more ethical way to study race and racism.

Roberts’ pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on contemporary issues in health, social justice and bioethics, especially as they impact the lives of women, children and African-Americans.

Her books include “Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century” (2011), “Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare” (2002), and “Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty” (1997).

There will be a book signing and a reception in Klarman Hall’s Groos Atrium following the lecture. Robert’s books will be for sale at the event and 20 percent off at The Cornell Store.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Institute for the Social Sciences, Cornell Law School and the Africana Studies and Research Center.


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