HC434H/431H - Race and Biotechnology

Professor: Arafaat Valiani

4.00 credits

CRN 35748: Tuesday & Thursday, 10:00-11:20am @ COL 45

Graduation Requirement: This class will fulfill a Social Science Colloquium and the Global Perspectives (GP) cultural literacy requirement.  If the student has already taken a Social Science Colloquium, this class will fulfill both of the following requirements:  an Elective Colloquium and GP cultural literacy.

Aside from the role of a flawed scientific team, bioscience is unbiased and based on truth, right? If that is true, would you agree that biotechnology should be equal in the way people produce and access medical knowledge, treatment and technology? This course will explore various answers to these questions in addition to inviting you to pose your own. We will do so by situating race, medical technology and public health within the historical and social contexts in which they are produced. We will use interdisciplinary tools to consider biotechnology and race broadly, in cultural and historical contexts globally, from the 19th century to the present. We will read expansively from humanities-oriented fields of science, technology and medicine (STM), indigenous studies, feminist science studies, disability studies and postcolonial technoscience in order to understand the various ways that biomedicine, race and public health intersect. Topics which will be explored include race and scientific ethics; the role of race and gender in institutions which produce biomedical knowledge; colonization, pandemics and toxins; race and the search for cures; gender and disease beyond the clinic; disability and prosthesis; genomics, caste and race. Students will develop critical interpretive skills by studying diverse primary sources which speak to the theme of race and biotechnology. The writing of historical figures in the sciences, scientific reporting in newspapers, scholarly writing, manifestos of medical activists, publicity and advertising, conference proceedings and film are some of the primary sources with which you might work.