The entrance to the Department of History’s office in Sidney Smith Hall
 

‘Constitutions Selection’: Darwin, Race, and Medicine

Start Date and Time:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 2:10PM

End Date and Time:

Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 4:00PM

Speaker(s):

Prof. Suman Seth (Department Of Science And Technology Studies - Cornell University)

In the course of his discussion of the origin of variations in skin colour among humans in his Descent of Man, Charles Darwin suggested that darker skin might be correlated with immunity to certain diseases. To make that suggestion, he drew upon a claim that seemed self-evidently correct in 1871, although it had seemed almost certainly incorrect in the late eighteenth century: that immunity to disease could be understood as a hereditary racial trait. This paper tracks Darwin’s conceptual resources on this question to explore the history of relationships between conceptions of disease and conceptions of race in the nineteenth century. That period saw the birth of a modern, fixist, biologically determinist racism, which increasingly manifested itself in medical writings. My aim here is to show that the reverse was also true: that medicine was a crucial site in which race was forged.

Sponsor(s)

  • Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

Contact Information

Adriana Leviston
adriana.leviston@utoronto.ca

Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology

Location:

Victoria College Chapel, VC213, Victoria College

Categories:

Colloquia

Audiences:

Alumni and Friends, Community, Faculty, Graduate Students, Undergraduate Students, Prospective Graduate Students

Image of Prof. Suman Seth