Race and Biomedicine Beyond the Lab: 21st Century Mobilizations
26th-27th SEPTEMBER 2019


This two-day interdisciplinary conference will be an important step toward building an international research network that focuses on the ways that race and biomedicine are mobilized beyond the lab in the 21st century. We seek to foreground how non-scientists are at the forefront of novel, plural, generative deployments of biomedical ideas of race that either entrench or resist historical ideas about race and its relation to biology across domains of environments, markets, and human rights.

Biomedical ideas of race have conventionally operated in two oppositional ways: notions of race as genetic or biological truth; and, conversely, accounts of health and health disparities as products of racism rather than caused by race itself. Debates about these opposing logics have never been completely cordoned off into domains of biomedical experts, but they are increasingly moving beyond the lab, and being deployed in diverse ways. Nonscientists are at the forefront of a range of deployments. On the one hand, biomedical ideas of race are being used by broader stakeholders to maintain historically entrenched ideas about race (e.g. pathologization of racialized groups to justify political repression and social service marginalization). On the other hand, biomedical ideas of race are also strategically mobilized in alternative directions, to stake claims and resist race-based injustice (e.g. identifying bodies in mass graves as racially indigenous in order to ground genocide claims in international courts).

Because our goal is to map out the terrain of scholarship in this space, we welcome presentations of either published work or unpublished work that explores these ideas.  We are particularly interested in receiving abstracts that explore three key domains where a broad range of publics are engaging biomedical ideas of race. First, as inhabitants of environments, e.g, epigenetic impacts of toxic environments and medical hot-spotting. Second, as consumers within markets, e.g, genetic ancestry testing and race-based pharmaceuticals. Third, as citizens and professionals mobilising science, in particular forensic science to arrive at justice or human rights, e.g. in cases mass disasters, humanitarian crises, genocide claims or nation-specific framings of group rights such as Dalit and Black Brazilian movements.  This conference will allow us to explore how individuals and groups in wide-ranging domains and contexts reimagine and seek to reconfigure racial futures.

This conference is supported by the Wellcome Trust, and funding for travel to the conference will be provided for conference participants based at institutions in the global south (defined according to Wellcome Trust guidelines).  Participants based at institutions in the global north are encouraged to source funding from their own institutions, and to be in conversation with conference organizers if their participation would only be possible with financial support.

The conference participants will be selected by the steering committee:
Melissa Creary, University of Michigan
Nadine Ehlers, University of Sydney
Zimitri Erasmus, University of the Witwatersrand
Vivette Garcia Deister, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
Amade M’charek, University of Amsterdam
Anne Pollock, King’s College London

Please submit 250 word abstract and 150 word bio by July 1st, 2019
Authors will be notified of acceptance by July 8th, 2019
Conference will be held September 26th and 27th, 2019

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