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June 21 , 2009

Race and the Genetic Revolution

Science, Myth, and Culture


Leading scholars from a range of disciplines, including law, biology, sociology, history, anthropology, and psychology, examine the impact of modern genetics on the concept of race. Does mapping the human genome reconstitute a scientific rationale for long-discredited racial categories? Contributors trace the interplay between genetics and race in forensic DNA databanks, the biology of intelligence, DNA ancestry markers, and racialized medicine. Each essay explores commonly held and unexamined assumptions and misperceptions about race in both science and popular culture.
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Divided into six major categories, the collection begins with the historical origins and current uses of the concept of "race" in science. It follows with an analysis of the role of race in DNA databanks and its reflection of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Essays then consider the rise of recreational genetics in the form of for-profit testing of genetic ancestry and the introduction of racialized medicine, specifically through an FDA-approved heart drug called BiDil, marketed to African American men. Concluding sections discuss the contradictions between our scientific and cultural understandings of race and the continuing significance of race in educational and criminal justice policy, not to mention the ongoing project of a society that has no use for racial stereotypes.
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