ISS Annual Lecture: Dorothy Roberts – Racism and The New Racial Science

Prof. Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender, and law from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, will present the 2017 ISS Annual Lecture cosponsored by the Institute for the Social Sciences, the Cornell Law School, and the Africana Studies and Research Center.

In her lecture titled “Racism and The New Racial Science,” Prof. Roberts will address recent advances in scientific research that have included 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. 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. The biological and social scientists developing a new racial science elide 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.

Dorothy Roberts holds joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School where she holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander chair. She is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies. Her pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent contemporary issues in health, social justice, and bioethics, especially as they impact the lives of women, children and African-Americans. Her major books include Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century (New Press, 2011); Shattered Bonds: The Color of Child Welfare (Basic Books, 2002), and Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty (Pantheon, 1997). She is the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a co-editor of six books on such topics as constitutional law and women and the law.

There will be a book signing and a reception following the lecture in the Groos Atrium.