International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 8  /  09:00 - 10:30  /  DS-R525
Organized session / diverse format
Bringing race/ethnicity to public fora

Ageliki Lefkaditou (Universitetet i Oslo, Norway); Phil Loring (Norsk Teknisk Museum, Norway); Edna Suárez-Díaz (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico)


Hallvard Fossheim (Universitetet i Bergen, Norway)
Adam Hochman (Macquarie University, Australia)
Jon Røyne Kyllingstad (Norsk Teknisk Museum, Norway)
Ageliki Lefkaditou (Universitetet i Oslo, Norway)
Phil Loring (Norsk Teknisk Museum, Norway)
Edna Suárez-Díaz (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico)

In recent years, and at previous ISHPSSB meetings, historians and philosophers of science, social scientists, biological anthropologists, and geneticists have engaged in heated discussions about the reality, reemergence, or even the non-disappearance of race. Research in human genetic variation and genetic ancestry facilitated by the latest technological advances has further fueled these exchanges. Rethinking race and ethnicity among professionals is itself a demanding task. The political relevance and impact of these topics, however, means there is also a responsibility to broaden the field of the scholarly debate to include wider public arenas. Taking up these issues outside a protected and contained academic environment is fraught with its own types of tension and requires different kinds of nuanced considerations. This roundtable brings together museum curators, historians, and philosophers who share an interest in what happens when questions of race and ethnicity enter contemporary public fora such as museums, newspapers, and social media. Such environments provoke constant renegotiations of representation and misrepresentation, individual and collective identity, inclusion and exclusion. Under these conditions, even seemingly innocuous objects, images, or phrases can become unstable and explosive. The session will include short talks on the race/ethnicity distinction and on public discussions of genetic origins and national ancestry, on the challenges facing university collections and museum exhibitions, as well as on debates over reburial of human remains and representation of ethnic groups. After a brief response from the chairperson, an open discussion will follow.