Call for Papers: The Business of Race and Science

Conference: March 30-31, 2007, Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology, and Medicine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Submission Deadline: October 15th, 2006

Recent advances in genetics have renewed interest in sciences and technologies of race. Although humans may share 99.9% of their genes, there may be much that is interesting, even profitable, in the remaining 0.1%. This has fueled rapidly growing interest in a range of products that claim to take advantage of differences between human populations. Companies now market race-specific medications and vitamins, and other racial therapeutics are in development. Competing laboratories offer genetic analyses of race and ancestry. Racial science has infiltrated our discussions of topics as wide-ranging as cosmetics and forensics, while parallel developments commercialize differences between strains of plants and animals. Increasing funding for racial analyses from governments, corporations, and consumers will only accelerate this process.

Are these ventures appropriate uses of new understandings of race? Will this commodification of racial science help or harm the targeted populations and society at large? Who speaks for populations in endorsing or sanctioning the commercialization of racial difference? How will the controversies play out in different countries and contexts? How will attending to the business of racial science help understand the science itself and clarify its role in our world? This conference invites papers from many disciplines — medicine, pharmacology, history, anthropology, sociology, STS, genetics, business, ethics, law, and others — to discuss the promise and pitfalls of the new business of race and science.

Abstracts (300 words or less) should be submitted by October 15th to: Gregory Dorr, Ph.D. ([email protected])