Lost in Translation

Original article (in German): Lost in Translation: Man darf den US-Begriff “race” nicht mit dem deutschen Wort “Rasse” verwechseln (download pdf)

English translation (pdf): Lost in Translation: Why the U.S. word “race” is not to be translated with the German word “Rasse”

In this piece, originally published in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung on May 17, 2018a group of social scientists (including SJRC Director Jenny Reardon), humanities scholars, and natural scientists explain the differences between the English word race and the German word Rasse. These differences help reveal some of the difficulties of translating discussions on the subject of race, and specifically, its relationship with genomics, across different cultural and linguistic contexts. This piece was part of the recent debate initially sparked by Harvard geneticist David Reich in his New York Times op-ed, “How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race.'” You can view our regularly updated page tracking this debate in the press here.

Developing: Debate on ‘Race’ and Genomics

Last month, Harvard geneticist David Reich published a New York Times op-ed, entitled “How Genetics is Changing Our Understanding of ‘Race.’” In the piece, Reich argues that geneticists “are learning that while race may be a social construct, differences in genetic ancestry that happen to correlate to many of today’s racial constructs are real.”

The article prompted 67 natural and social scientists, legal scholars and public health researchers to draft an open letter in response to Reich’s claims. The letter, published by Buzzfeed, asserts that Reich misrepresents critiques of of the use of ‘race’ and ‘population’ in biomedical and genetic research.  It urges collaboration between geneticists and their social science and humanities colleagues so that more careful thinking and writing can be brought to bear upon consequential and controversial questions about how human differences should be ordered and understood.

In the weeks since, this debate has carried on. As it develops, this page will serve as repository for related stories, and will be regularly updated with new information and new links.

We will pay particular attention to how this debate is playing out differently in different countries.  Professor of Sociology and Science and Justice Director Jenny Reardon, who helped draft the Buzzfeed response, and who just finished a second book on the condition of living with genomes, has participated in this continuing discussion from Germany.  There she is collaborating with historians and population geneticists who are responding to efforts to re-introduce into Germany genetic definitions of human groups.  Since WWII, it has been taboo in the German context to use the term Rasse (the German word for ‘race’) to refer to humans.  However, many major German language media outlets are mobilizing the Reich op ed to argue that this taboo should end.  To give the reader some context for this current debate, in addition to the news coverage, we provide links to relevant academic articles.  We also provide links to coverage in other parts of the world.

 

Resources (updated regularly):

Op-Ed and Initial Response:

Reich’s Op-Ed:

 

Buzzfeed response co-authored by natural and social scientists, legal scholars, and public health researchers:

 

Responses in the Popular Press:

United States:

Germany:

Switzerland:

Austria:

United Kingdom:

  • The Unwelcome Revival of ‘Race Science’The Guardian, March 2, 2018
    • Writing several weeks prior to Reich’s op-ed, Gavin Evans describes race science as “debunked” and notes how race science is taken up by the alt-right and defended as “standing up for uncomfortable truths.”
  • How ancient DNA is transforming our view of the pastBBC News, April 12, 2018
    • A BBC reporter asks Reich about Buzzfeed response.  Rather than responding to substance to the critique, Reich says he is “very pleased to be part of introducing this discussion.”
  • Neanderthals, Denisovans and Modern Humans – London Review of Books, September 13, 2018
    • Steven Mithen reviews Reich’s Who We are and How We Got Here. He notes that ancient DNA research has “implications for the politics of the present,” mentions the Buzzfeed-published response to Reich’s treatment of race. Ultimately, he argues that population genomics, while illuminating, ultimately stand on equal footing with culture and beliefs as ways of defining ‘who we are.’

France:

Korea:

  • Race, Genetics and Us – Korea Times, March 30
    • Jason Lim questions Reich’s optimism about the ability of society to not ‘weaponize’ findings about race and genomics.

Canada:

  • Opinion: Is ‘Race” a Made-Up Label?The Globe and Mail, April 14, 2018
    • Margaret Wente defends Reich for “expanding the range of what is sayable on a topic that is explosive, uncomfortable, and also increasingly inescapable.”
  • Why Your DNA Test Won’t Reveal the Real You – The Globe and Mail, May 4, 2018
    • Timothy Caulfield argues that race is a “biological fiction” and that attempts to attach genetics to human classification, as exemplified by genetic ancestry testing, tend to reify and legitimate racist perspectives.

India:

  • The Science is ComingIndia Times Magazine, April 5, 2018
    • Razib Khan compares Reich’s op-ed to “tossing a grenade into the public square,” but defends his work and his book as not controversial, but “wondrous.”

 

Race and Genomics Debates in the U.S. and Germany:

C’elegans: a Sculpted Reflection on Abstraction and the Notion of Progress in Science

In Winter 2018, Science & Justice Visiting Scholar Kim Hendrickx convened a meeting in the lab of Distinguished Professor of MCD Biology Susan Strome to discuss C. elegans, the elegant see-through worm that has long served as a model in developmental biology research.

Strome and lab members welcomed Hendrickx, Distinguished Professor Emerita Donna Haraway and Science & Justice Director Jenny Reardon along with the S&J community.

Invited art student, D (aka Daniel Lynch) created a physical response to the ‘Addressing Biology’ discussion in the form of a sculpture made from discarded laboratory rods, hardware and band saw blades. In their written statement, the student explained: “The UNC blade both suspends and is contained by the construction much like the way scientific dialogue can become bound by the knowledge it has already produced.” Hendrickx responded: “It is strange and exciting to see something very familiar in a new form.” The student, overseen by Dee Hibbert-Jones in the Art Department, was allowed to use this response piece as their final class project. All involved felt the excitement of such creative and engaged interactions between the arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities.

j-UNC by D (aka Daniel Lynch)

Discarded Laboratory Rod & Hardware, Discarded Band-Saw Blades 

C’elegans is a nematode characterized by its S-shaped movement, and is studied as a model organism. Experimentation has caused a variety of mutations in individual worms. Remarkably some have developed neurons instead of reproductive germs. Others lose their characteristic movement, becoming uncoordinated. These are named “UNC” by researchers.

The worm is treated both as a subject and tool, whereas the blade transforms from tool to subject. The legible, linear detail of the teeth reflect the visible, linear nature of the worm’s internal biology. The blade that is held in examination by the construction is torqued into a curve that is evocative of the worm’s natural movement. In contrast, the heavier blade on the floor appears contorted, referencing the UNC.

The material used to build the construction gains new importance through form while retaining its identity and history as a support structure used in scientific experimentation. The construction’s, upward-stretching and outward-reaching form represents a methodic progression towards something, in abstraction of science. The UNC blade both suspends and is contained by the construction, much like the way scientific dialogue can become bound by the knowledge it has already produced.

Paloma Medina: The Diversity of the Natural World

Paloma Medina, a Science & Justice Training Program Graduate Fellow at SJRC, contributes to the field of population genetics with a distinctly feminist mindset.

By Bradley Jin, SJRC Communications Intern, UC Santa Cruz undergraduate in Sociology and Feminist Studies

Biology has been integral in the formation of what is ‘natural.’ Concepts of the natural have shaped many of our understandings of what is normal in terms  of race, sexuality, and gender. The history of population genetics is not immune to the prejudices carried by the people who seek to understand population diversity. Moreover, genetic population studies have been used as justification to promote systems of inequality. To learn from and change this history, Paloma Medina, a Science & Justice Training Program Graduate Fellow at the Science & Justice Research Center, works with queer community members to inform the applications of her research in population genetics. She works in what is known as ‘queer ecology.’ Queer ecology has many definitions, but it can be loosely described as the interdisciplinary practice of biology that focuses on the gender and sexual diversity found in nature. Queer ecology is a way of practicing just and fair science.

Medina is inspired by the diversity she sees in nature and many biologists share her mindset. She leads a queer ecology research cluster reading group at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Here, graduate students meet to read about and discuss the variety of the natural world. “Biodiversity is almost sacred to biologists. When I tell them about sex and gender diversity in the natural world, they’re like ‘Yeah, that makes sense.’" In the Queer Ecology Research Cluster, Medina seeks to move beyond the critique of science and elevate the stories of queer animals, of which there are many.

For Medina, the side-blotched lizard is a striking example of biodiversity in the animal kingdom. Medina relates that “they have different coloration patterns on their neck that coincide with their lifestyle strategy.” Here, ‘lifestyle strategy’ is almost synonymous with gender expression. This pattern of coloration communicates the behavior of the individual lizards to others. Aggressive males are marked one way, non-aggressive males another. It forms a sort of ‘rock, paper, scissors’ style of dominance. This species, among others, challenges the concept of dichotomous, ‘biological and natural’ gender and sex. Animals like the side-blotched lizard inspire Medina to think of ‘queer’ animals as a reflection of the diversity of human identity.

Along with running the queer ecology reading group Medina has given presentations on biodiversity at the Brain Mind Consciousness Society at UCSC and at the Queer U conference at the University of British Columbia. Having given both lectures and workshops, she states,  “I think students get more out of a workshop than a lecture because students can engage with other students and converse about ideas in a workshop setting. Of course the two styles are not mutually exclusive, but allowing the opportunity to talk about and relate to ideas is critical to learning and expanding.” In addition to workshops, Medina is working with the Youth Group of the Santa Cruz Diversity Center on an illustrated novel. The novel will tell the story of a clownfish who transitions from male to female when the matriarch of their colony leaves.  She hopes this project will elevate the voices of queer and trans youth to a broader community.

 

 

Paloma Medina is a Science & Justice Training Program Graduate Fellow at the Science & Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz. At the Center Medina strives not to practice science as justice, or justice as science, but instead view them as the same thing. For her, science is justice, and justice is science. Technology and science intersect with society to such a degree that they are inseparable.

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Science and Justice Courses offered Spring 2018

UC Santa Cruz offers a wide range of courses across its many disciplines whose curriculum questions the relationships between science, society and justice. The below list of courses (undergraduate and graduate, face to face and online) are taught across all five academic divisions. To add your course: email us at scijust[at]ucsc.edu

 

Undergraduate Courses

ANTH 106 Primate Behavior and Ecology: The nature of primate social systems and social bonds is examined in the light of evolutionary and ecological concepts. Students cannot receive credit for this course and course 206. Prerequisite(s): course 1. V. Oelze

ANTH 110U Anthropology of Science: Examines science and technology through an anthropological lens, focusing on ethnographic studies of scientific practice and relations between science and society. We will look at studies theorizing core scientific elements, and focus on qualitative, empirically-based studies of scientific practice.

ANTH 134 Medical Anthropology – An Introduction: Cross-cultural study of health, disease, and illness behavior from ecological and ethnomedical perspectives. Implications for biomedical health care policy.

ANTH 146 Anthropology and the Environment: Examines recent approaches to study of nature and the environment. Considers historical relationship between nature, science, and colonial expansion as well as key issues of contemporary environmental concern: conservation, environmental justice, and social movements.

ANTH 190X Special topics in Biological Anthropology: Taught annually on a rotating basis by various faculty members. Precise focus of each year’s course varies according to the instructor and is announced by the department. (Formerly Special topics in Archaeology-Physical Anthropology.) Prerequisite(s): course 1. May be repeated for credit. The Staff

Topic (Neanderthals): This course will use primary academic research to explore the social behaviors, technology, anatomy, and genetics of neanderthals and in the end, we will gain a more holistic understanding of exactly who neanderthals were.

ART 80B Environmental Art: Examines ways artists engage, interact, and comment upon ecology and nature in their artworks by examining environmental art from the 1960s through the present. (General Education Code(s): PE-E.) Instructor: Elizabeth Stephens, *Students from other disciplines are encouraged to enroll

ART 125 Environmental Art Studio: Introduces students to environmental art and design through basic concepts, techniques, and studio practice. Students are billed for a materials fee. Prerequisite(s): Three courses from: Art 15, 20G, 20H, 20I, 20J, 20K, 26, and Computational Media 25 Enrollment restricted to art majors. May be repeated for credit. Instructor: Elizabeth Stephens, The Staff

FMST 133 Science and the Body: Contemporary technoscientific practices, such as nano-, info-, and biotechnologies, are rapidly reworking what it means to be human. Course examines how both our understanding of the human and the very nature of the human are constituted through technoscientific practices. Prerequisite(s): courses 1 and 100. Enrollment restricted to juniors and seniors. (General Education Code(s): PE-T.) Instructor: Karen Barad

LIT 80K Topics in Medical Humanities: Medical Humanities designate an interdisciplinary field of humanities (literature, philosophy, ethics, history, and religion) concerned with application to medical education and practice. The humanities provide insight into the human condition, suffering, personhood, and our responsibility to each other; and offer a historical perspective on medical practice. (General Education Code(s): PE-T.) Instructor: W. Godzich

Graduate Courses

BIOE 262 Facilitating Change in Coastal Science Policy: Skills-based course in effective leadership and communication, including stakeholder engagement, facilitation, conflict resolution, team building, and introduction to project management. Communication training includes identifying audiences and objectives (public, philanthropy, policymakers, managers, scientist practitioners) and leveraging non-traditional communication platforms. Enrollment by application and restricted to graduate students. Enrollment limited to 16. M. Carr, K. Kroeker. Learn more at the course website!

FMST 214 Topics in Feminist Science Studies: Graduate seminar on feminist science studies. Topics will vary and may include: the joint consideration of science studies and poststructuralist theory; the relationship between discursive practices and material phenomena; and the relationship between ontology, epistemology, and ethics. Enrollment restricted to graduate students. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor: Karen Barad

SOCY 268A Science and Justice: Experiments in Collaboration: Considers the practical and epistemological necessity of collaborative research in the development of new sciences and technologies that are attentive to questions of ethics and justice. Enrollment by permission of instructor. Enrollment restricted to graduate students. (Also offered as Biomolecular Engineering 268A and Feminist Studies 268A and Anthropology 267A. Students cannot receive credit for both courses.) Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor: Kristina Lyons


Offered Summer 2018

Undergraduate Courses

LIT 61U Introduction to Speculative Fiction: Close reading of speculative and science fiction texts (short stories, novels, and films) with the aim of developing critical methods for the analysis and interpretation of SF as a critique of science, technology, and culture. Course will explore themes like encounters across species; novelty and change; expanded concepts of life; and the role of technology in human development. (General Education Codes: PE-T). Offered during summer session as online. Z. Zimmer

February 28th | Support Science & Justice on campus fundraising day

On February 28, 2018 UC Santa Cruz will host the third annual Giving Day campaign, a 24-hour online fundraising event.

Incentives to give include matching funds: if you are interested in matching funds for specific projects, please email cmasseng@ucsc.edu.

Challenges throughout the day will reward teams attracting the greatest number of donors during specific times. The minimum amount to donate online is $5. Campus events including accepting cash donations, of any amount, on day-of are planned for Quarry Plaza.

Stay tuned for the daily schedule! Follow Sociology@UCSantaCruz on Twitter or Facebook and help spread the word about all of our projects using the hashtag #give2UCSC on social media.

Visit our Giving Day project page to make gifts or track our donations in real time!

The Science and Justice Research Center

Training the next generation of science and justice researchers to maximize the public good of science and technology.

Students learn collaborative methods and knowledge sharing strategies for creating science and justice together. The Science and Justice Training Program (SJTP) is training a next generation of social scientists, humanists, engineers, physical and biological scientists, and artists who can collaborate and respond to the complex and core concerns of our times.  Help grow our ability to make a difference in these crucial issues that lie at the intersection of science, the environment, health and justice.

Read more and watch the video.

 

Andy Murray in BioSocieties on “Meat cultures: Lab-grown meat and the politics of contamination”

SJRC graduate student researcher, Andy Murray (Sociology), published an article in BioSocieties on “Meat cultures: Lab-grown meat and the politics of contamination”.

Read the article at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41292-017-0082-z?wt_mc=Internal.Event.1.SEM.ArticleAuthorOnlineFirst

More information about Andy’s work can be found at: https://collectiveferments.wordpress.com/

Information about Andy’s work with SJRC on “Bioengineering and Meat Cultures” can be found at: https://scijust.ucsc.edu/2014/01/16/human-non-human-collaboration-across-the-arts-sciences/