Synopses & Reviews
A decade after the Human Genome Project proved that human beings are not naturally divided by race, the emerging fields of personalized medicine, reproductive technologies, genetic genealogy, and DNA databanks are attempting to resuscitate race as a biological category written in our genes. In this provocative analysis, leading legal scholar and social critic Dorothy Roberts argues that America is once again at the brink of a virulent outbreak of classifying population by race. By searching for differences at the molecular level, a new race-based science is obscuring racism in our society and legitimizing state brutality against communities of color at a time when America claims to be post-racial.
Moving from an account of the evolution of raceproving that it has always been a mutable and socially defined political division supported by mainstream scienceRoberts delves deep into the current debates, interrogating the newest science and biotechnology, interviewing its researchers, and exposing the political consequences obscured by the focus on genetic difference. Fatal Invention is a provocative call for us to affirm our common humanity.
"Roberts, a lawyer and sociology professor, examines the development and contemporary consequences of 'race as a political system,' bringing science, law, commerce, and race ideologies, virtual thickets of controversy, under one canopy. After demonstrating how, historically, 'race was literally manufactured by law,' and offering an admirably intelligible account of genomic theory, she considers the extent to which the new approaches 'tend to merely repackage race as a genetic category rather than replace it.' DNA becomes a 'marketable commodity,' one consequence being that 'race soon became the linchpin for turning the vision of tomorrow's personalized medicine into today's profit-making drugs.' As she assesses the 'new biopolitics of race,' she argues that 'Race-based medicine gives people a morally acceptable reason to hold onto their belief in intrinsic racial difference.' While 'pharmacogenomics,' 'epigenetic,' and 'allele' are not in most of our conversations, and while the specialized journals Roberts has made germane use of, for support or to controvert, are not most readers' regular stuff, Roberts is consistently lucid. Her book is alarming but not alarmist, controversial but evidential, impassioned but rational. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Dorothy Roberts is the fourteenth Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is the George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights. She is the author of the award-winning Killing the Black Body and Shattered Bonds and is the co-editor of six books on gender and constitutional law. She serves as chair of the board of directors of the Black Women's Health Imperative.
Table of Contents
Part I: Believing in Race in the Genomic Age
1. The Invention of Race
2. Separating Racial Science from Racism
Part II: The New Racial Science
3. Redefining Race in Genetic Terms
4. Medical Stereotyping
5. The Allure of Race in Biomedical Research
6. Embodying Race
Part III: The New Racial Technology
8. Color-Coded Pills
9. Race and the New Biocitizen
10. Tracing Racial Roots
Part IV: The New Biopolitics of Race
11. Genetic Surveillance
12. Biological Race in a Postracial” America
Conclusion: The Crossroads