Race in the New Life Sciences: how to analyze social and scientific effects of biological differentiations in Germany?
Andrea zur Nieden
Paper short abstract:
The proposed paper intends to introduce and discuss with you the overall concept and first empirical findings of our newly established research group "Human Diversity in the New Life Sciences: Social and Scientific Effects of Biological Differentiations".
Paper long abstract:
The proposed paper intends to introduce and discuss with you the overall concept and first empirical findings of our newly established research group "Human Diversity in the New Life Sciences: Social and Scientific Effects of Biological Differentiations" (together with Tino Plümecke and Nils Ellebrecht). During the last few decades and on the basis of new technological possibilities (molecular genetics, neuroimaging) has attention increasingly been redirected towards the biological diversity of humans. Our research group intends to provide the first systematic, empirical analysis of the effects of racial differentiation in a German context. To this end, six case studies will be conducted in the areas of medicine/epidemiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, forensics, evolutionary genetics and daily clinical practice.
Biological differentiation in the life sciences pursues such diverse goals as an improved understanding of disease, more exact forensic methods as well as a deeper knowledge of human migratory history. These approaches intersect with political efforts to even out the health inequalities between different (sexes and) races by representing all relevant groups in clinical studies, for example. In Germany, a renaissance of research into human biological diversity is (also for historical reasons) only in its infancy. Often, categories that seem less politically problematic are used, such as "Migrationshintergrund" (immigrant background) instead of race.
As the project is rooted in STS, we are eager to discuss how STS can cope with race, and if our methodological approaches to reveal the actual practices involved in how race is constructed and operationalized make sense.
Topologies of race: bringing a touchy object in STS