IMW 300 Racial Fictions - Natural/Physical Sciences

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America & Germany: Eugenics Movement (racial hygiene)

Klautke, Egbert. “ ‘The Germans are Beating Us at Our Own Game’: American Eugenics and the German Sterilization Law of 1933.” History of the Human Sciences, vol. 29, no. 3, 2016,  pp. 25-43. SAGE. Accessed 09 March 2017.

The reason I chose this article for our research topic is because I found it to be tied to the start of racism in our society. I was doing a lot of research on the topic of Eugenical Sterilization, and a lot of resources popped up. This particular article discusses the American eugenics program with immigrants and how doctors/scientists encouraged the predominantly white race to procreate more “healthy, strong children”. The eugenical program started in the beginning of the twentieth century, and it began to be looked at internationally. After World War One, Germany looked at America’s eugenical system and agreed with a lot of our practices. Eventually, Germany and America became connected on the discussion of the racial hygiene movement, and created a large history of eugenics. The Nazi Socialist party began to take the moment a little too far, and began using it for more social political campaigns. At the time, Germany loved all of the eugenic sterilization practices and labs that were occurring in California and Virginia. Many of their original ideas stemmed from California. One of the most interesting parts in the article discusses how the United States had an entire museum in New York filled with the German social hygiene movement. Overall, there was a lot of given information in this article about the connection between American eugenics and Germany. I think it is important to understand how our country served as one of the main elements to Hitler’s awful reign. Sadly, history can be a little twisted and sad. 

Eugenical Sterilization: Nazi Medicine

Efstathiou, Sophia. “The Nazi Cosmetic: Medicine in the Service Of Beauty”. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, vol. 43, 2012, pp. 634-642. ScienceDirect. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.shpsc.2012.05.002 . Accessed 09 March 2017.

This article is a little different than all of our other research articles because it has an international component. A lot of our research recently has been done on the Eugenical Sterilization movement that was done in the United States. Well, according to my article titled “ ‘The Germans are Beating Us at Our Own Game’ ”, it discusses how the American eugenics movement persuaded and served as the basis for the Nazi Socialist racial hygiene movement. I thought this article was important because it backs up the other article by Egbert Klautke. In this article, it discusses how the Nazi party practiced their forms of medicine and the racial hygiene movement. I am aware that this article is not directly related to the United States, but it does specify how the Nazi’s derived some of their genetic and racism from the United States. The Nazi party was more focused on the whole, rather than the parts (individuals). They “promote[d] the procreation of the ‘fit’ while refraining from counter-selecting the ‘unfit’ ” (636). Unfortunately, the Nazi Socialist party became more immoral with their racial hygiene movement and it eventually led to mass genocide to the Jewish population and other minority groups. Overall, I think this article is interesting to read to see what ideas were based off of America. Even though Klautke’s piece is more related to the United States ties with Germany, it still shows the aesthetic influences on Nazi medicine and practices.

Reflection 1

Our groups explored a wide range of aspects concerning science and race at the start of our research. However, one particular aspect that we’ve focused on is the human genome project and how this project changed the perception of race in society. The human genome project set out to prove the inability to distinguish the differences between the genes of persons of different races. It was found that often times, people had more in common with someone of a different race than they do with their own. This was a significant find  and we would have expected that this would put an end to categorization by race in the science community. However, we found that contrary to our expectations, scientists made an ever increasing effort to discover genetic markers that could be able to distinguish the different races. This has fallen under the guise of ‘personalized medicine’. Pharmaceutical companies and other corporations seem to seek profit from targeting a specific subgroup by claiming that certain groups are more susceptible to certain diseases.

With this discovery, we aim to further explore the reconstruction of race in modern scientific communities. It would be helpful to look at the effects that this reconstruction has had on medicine, science  and society as a whole. There may also be alternate aspects of the human genome project, the effects it has had on society and the presence of race in the scientific community, that we have not discovered so we aim to broaden our search as well as.

Another interesting concept that we found was implicit bias and the issues that surround it. Implicit bias is the unconscious associations we make about different racial groups. This leads to problems because it is an unconscious and unintentional thing that people do as human beings. Unfortunately, certain races are associated with negative stereotypes; in many cases we unintentionally associate negative events with certain groups of people. This aspect is extremely interesting because it is obvious that this is an issue that needs to be tackled, however, it is hard to solve things that are perpetuated by our subconscious. Implicit bias is also an extremely applicable issue to real world situations such as in court. An example that was researched was the concept of “triage” in public defender cases. Public defenders are notorious for being overworked and underfunded meaning they don’t have the resources available that they should have. Therefore, they select the cases that seem most possible to win and dedicate more resources to these  cases. The problem with this idea of triage is that public defenders could, a lot of times, subconsciously take part in  implicit bias resulting in certain races and groups of people not receiving proper legal counsel or  getting less attention. We find this an interesting concept and issue and one that will be tough to investigate, but certainly needs to be tackled.

Implicit Bias

This article discusses implicit bias and how it is the unconscious and unintentional mental process of making judgements. It is stated that implicit bias goes along with when we automatically and unconsciously use heuristics to cope enormous amounts of information that is thrown at us. This article then goes into the specific fact that implicit bias has in public defender triage and in court. For example, being aware of stereotypes that we know about certain races and might not believe as true is still in our head and subconsciously being aware of these stereotypes. These are called implicit attitudes. The theory is that certain races are much more associated to negative stereotypes so there is a general tendency to associate everything negative with these negative stereotypes, which is quite a problem. This is a big issue with public defenders because of their massive caseloads and being very underfunded it makes it very difficult for  public defenders to successfully represent clients. Because of how much work public defenders have they are forced to work with “triage” and quickly decide which clients are worth representing and which ones to not represent. With implicit bias this shows how a certain races and negative stereotypes could greatly affect how clients are represented.

 

RICHARDSON, L. SONG, and PHILLIP ATIBA GOFF. “Implicit Racial Bias in Public Defender Triage.” The Yale Law Journal, vol. 122, no. 8, 2013, pp. 2626–2649., www.jstor.org/stable/23528687.

Criminalistics

Criminalistics is the profession and discipline focused on recognizing, identifying, and evaluating physical evidence by using natural science in law-science matters. It is claimed that criminalistics is a very misunderstood by the scientific public. Criminalistics has been compared with forensic science as it is a relatively new and still very small category in science. Some difficulties that criminalistics is facing is the adaptation of technology to criminalistic science specifically. It was expected that advances in technology would really help further the criminalistics, but after hundreds of thousands of dollars of research later it became apparent that the problem was still unsolved. Another problem with criminalistics is the inadequacy of samples left because in most cases criminals don’t leave DNA samples on purpose and these samples are usually inadequate and hard to get a good reading from. To really make some progress to improving criminalistics it is going to require a sufficient amount of financial backing and then using that backing to create a better intellectual environment in which to start finding better answers to some of the issues named above. Criminalistics has made some technical progress, but there is still a significant amount of fundamental progress that needs to be made.

 

Ostenburg, James W. “What Problems Must Criminalistics Solve.” Jstor. Northwestern University School of Law, 23 Oct. 2007. Web. 3 Mar. 2017.

Critique on Samuel Morton’s Cranial Capacity

Gould, Steven J. “Morton’s Ranking of Races by Cranial Capacity.” American Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. 200, no. 4341, 1978, pp. 503-509. JSTOR. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1746562. Accessed 2 March 2017.

The reason I chose this article is because it is about cranial capacity and it was written in 1978. I searched for a piece of work written before the year 2000 because I wanted to see if the perceptions of Gould were different than today. After reading the piece, Gould’s overall interpretation seemed very similar to if someone would have written it in 2017. This piece discusses and examines Samuel George Morton’s scientific research cranial capacity. Morton had the world’s largest collection of skulls that represented various racial groups such as: Eskimo, Indian, Caucasian, African-American, etc. His skull collection was based off of a hierarchy system in which Anglo-Saxon/Tuetonic were at the top and Black were at the bottom. Gould looked over Morton’s work and realized that there were many problems that Morton did not fix. The first was that Morton chose to include and or delete large subsamples in order to keep his priori expectations the same. He also assumed that cranial capacity only reflected mental ability, so when he got his desired result he considered it complete. Morton also failed to make differences on the two sexes. Overall, the main reason for Morton’s scientific experiment was to show racial ranking and to confirm the stereotypes in his study. This article is important to my research because science can be proven to be false. Morton was basing his science off of pre-established racial biases, but it provided as a strong influence on racial ranking back in the 19th/20th century. Many of the misrepresentations and stereotypes that came out of this experiment can still be found in our society today.

Immigration, Public Health and Disease (20th century)

Markel, Howard and Alexandra Minna Stern. “Which Face? Whose Nation? Immigration, Public Health, and the Construction of Disease at America’s Ports and Borders, 1891-1928.” The American Behavioral Scientist, vol. 42, no.9, 1999, pp.1314-1331. SAGE. https://doi.org/10.1177/00027649921954921. Accessed 2 March 2017.

Since this is my third post for research, I wanted to look up an article that was published before 2000. The reason I did this is because I wanted to read something from a different perspective in time. Articles written today are going to have a different perspective than papers written over 17 years ago. This piece by Markel and Stern discusses the major health concerns and stereotyping that occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. The national health association was very strict on keeping America and its citizens clean from infectious diseases, deleterious genetic traits and chronic conditions/disabilities. The article focuses on four different ports/border patrols such as: Ellis Island (New York), Angel Island (San Francisco), Port Huron and Detroit (Michigan), and finally El Paso and Laredo (Texas-Mexico border). This piece is important to my research and the group research because it establishes how immigration was first treated in America. The large waves of Immigrants bombarded the American shores and the treatment at these health agencies determined how Americans would view immigrants today. Many of the inspections were based on the hierarchies of class and socioeconomic standing. As well, certain types of diseases were more common from other parts of the world, so immigrants would be examined differently depending on their geographical locations. Local/regional social, physical and cultural forces were all considered during the immigration inspections. Our country was basing a persons citizenship into the country by skin color, facial features, and associations with a particular illness/disease. Sadly, this is why there are still so many problems today because of all the negative stereotypes and connotations of immigration groups.

First Process Post

Overall, the process for our group started out a little unsure but we are now beginning to narrow our topics. When searching for topics, we always refer to the Olin Library database and Google Scholar. After our first research post, it was evident that our research was all over the board. Every participant searched up a different topic, but it provided a solid base for our overall research. Before meeting with the librarian, some group member were stuck on how to find more information about their topic. As well, some did not understand how to narrow our topics to find more information. After meeting with the librarian, our group felt way more confident in finding research for our WordPress site. She told us how to narrow our topics and where to find more sources that are relevant to the natural sciences. She told us to visit Academic Database Premier, Science Direct College edition, JSTOR, and web of science. Another thing she explained was for us to change our search terms and key words in order to find more results. One of the most beneficial tips she gave us was to look at the citation list at the end of our research articles to find closely related topics of research. At the moment, our big topics are Implicit Bias and Race, the Human Genome Project, Cranial Capacity, and Genetic studies. Over the next few weeks, our topics will begin to become more narrow and specific as we read more scholarly articles. Our group is doing pretty well in the overall process and hopefully we will have an “ah ha” moment soon”. 

The Genetic Reinscription of Race

El-Haj, Nadia Abu. “The Genetic Reinscription of Race.” Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 36, 2007, pp. 283–300., www.jstor.org/stable/25064957. Accessed 20 Feb 2017.

After the first draft of the human genome project was completed, various leaders declared an end to race asa valid scientific category. However, this declaration may have been premature. Shortly after, multiple journals produced heated debates about the biological status of race and how useful it would be in biomedical research and practice.  Therefore, this review sought to analyze the meanings,  and effects of race in particular fields of contemporary postgenomics by examining  the scientific, social, and political economic contexts of the use of race. The focus is on the United States and the central network of postgenomics scientific practices. Group based diversity has become an object of value in postgenomic medicine, therefore the review sought to explain how and why this came about. It even discusses the political economy of genomics and its relation with neoliberalism in order to understand how they structure race in science and society. It is overall, an explanation of how race is being reconstructed within the science community and if its reconstruction is valid in the context of bio-medicine.

Racial Science Now: Histories of Race and Science in the Age of Personalized Medicine.

Beaton, Brian. “Racial Science Now: Histories of Race and Science in the Age of Personalized Medicine.” The Public Historian, vol. 29, no. 3, 2007, pp. 157–162, www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/tph.2007.29.3.157. Accessed 20 Feb. 2017.

This article focuses on race in contemporary biomedical research and uses a case study of RaceSci: A History of Race in Science Web project. This project is one of the earliest electronic resources devoted to the history of race in science. It was relaunched in early 2007 in order to expand its focus on the present. It’s original purpose was to affirm race as a category of analysis within the history of science and to help create a field where none previously existed. In recent times, the role of race has received considerable attention and thus historians have come to recognize that scientific constructions of race takes place in various institutions and practices. Although, this was very surprising, racial science made a noticeably return particularly in genetic research and drug trials  which are part of the emergent trend of ‘personalized medicine’.  Despite the fact that the Human Genome Project proved that race cannot be determined through genes, the trend of ‘personalized medicine’ keeps growing. The article argues that this is an effort by researchers and drug companies to develop pharmaceuticals tailored to specific subgroups. However, the real objective is to identify groups of individuals with potentially similar genotypes. The author believes that considerable reworking may be needed to attend to the reemergence of race in contemporary scientific research.

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