The Postgenomic Condition: Truth, Race and Justice After the Genome

At the end of the last millennium, the proposal of the Human Genome Diversity Project and the imminent publication of Herrnstein and Murray’s (1994) controversial bestseller, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life sparked worries that the new science of genomics would reignite scientific racism. Since WWII, human geneticists had labored to distance the study of human genes from eugenics and the Nazi regime. Would that work, and the possibility of a genomic account of human differences, be undone before the research had even really begun? To avert this possibility, in the wake of the sequencing of the human genome—or the postgenomic era—genome scientists and their supporters proposed a new ‘democratic’ approach to genomics. In several high profile cases, they proposed to give power back to “the people” to define themselves, and to control use of their DNA. Yet the problem of race and racism persisted. From the International HapMap Project, to David Reich’s March 23rd editorial in the New York Times, this talk explains how and by what means debates about ‘race’ and racism remain central and formative of the postgenomic condition.   

Jenny Reardon is a Professor of Sociology and the Founding Director of the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Her research draws into focus questions about identity, justice and democracy that are often silently embedded in scientific ideas and practices, particularly in modern genomic research. Her training spans molecular biology, the history of biology, science studies, feminist and critical race studies, and the sociology of science, technology and medicine. She is the author of Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics (Princeton University Press, 2005) and The Postgenomic Condition: Ethics, Justice, Knowledge After the Genome (Chicago University Press, Fall 2017).  She has been the recipient of fellowships and awards from, among others, the National Science Foundation, the Max Planck Institute, the Humboldt Foundation, the London School of Economics, the Westinghouse Science Talent Search, and the United States Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Join the web meeting via Zoom.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Genentech Hall, 114
600 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94158

Event Type

Lecture/Seminar, Academic


School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing


Students, Postdocs, Faculty, Staff


Mission Bay

Institute for Health & Aging
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