New Book on the Biopolitics of Race

Posted by Osagie Obasogie August 18, 2011
Biopolitical Times

If there is any one book that I am recommending these days, it is Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-Create Race in the 21st Century by Dorothy Roberts, who is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Northwestern. In the Preface’s very first paragraph, Roberts sets out a powerful and important agenda:

News stories about race, genetics, life, and death in the first decade of the twenty first century reflect an ominous trend overtaking the social and political life of this nation. We are witnessing the emergence of a new form of racial politics in America, in which the State’s power to control the life and death of populations relies on classifying them by race. Defining the political system of race in biological terms has been a constant feature of U.S. society for centuries, but the precise mechanisms for re-creating race have changed to reflect current sociopolitical realities. This book examines the role of genomic science and biotechnologies in today’s reinvention of our enduring racial order.

This book meets an urgent need: encouraging greater thought and public discussion on what new genetic technologies mean for society’s understanding of racial difference and its commitment to racial justice. Roberts’ conclusion that we must continue to resist biological understandings of race while taking its political significance seriously may very well be the single most important framework for understanding these new developments. The book is a herculean effort in fleshing out the biopolitics of race. To learn more about this book project, check out a recent interview with Roberts at and her new article on race-based medicine in the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, & Technology

Also, the Center for Genetics and Society will co-host book events this September in Northern and Southern California to celebrate Fatal Invention’s release. Both will feature Roberts discussing these issues and answering questions from the audience.  More information is below. All are welcomed.

Co-hosted by Center for Genetics and Society and Generations Ahead
Tuesday, September 20 • 5:00 – 6:30pm
RSVP requested to [email protected]
Free admission
Great Hall @ the Bancroft Hotel
2680 Bancroft Way (between College Ave and Bowditch St), Berkeley, CA

Street or public lot parking (around $5) available on Bancroft Way or Bowditch St near the hotel

Co-hosted by Center for Genetics and Society and Ms. Magazine
Thursday, September 22 • 7:00 – 9:00pm
RSVP requested to 310-556-2515
Free admission
Ms. Magazine & Feminist Majority Foundation Offices
433 South Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills (Between Pico & Olympic Blvd)