Faculty of Medicine

A Lecture by Professor Suman Seth: ‘Constitutions Selection’: Darwin, Race, and Medicine

Oct 16, 2019
|
2:00pm–4:00pm
Lecture
Details

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. Professor Suman Seth's aim is to show that the reverse was also true: that medicine was a crucial site in which race was forged.

Suman Seth is a Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University. He is the author of Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth- Century British Empire (Cambridge, 2018) and Crafting the Quantum: Arnold Sommerfeld and the Practice of Theory, 1890-1926 (MIT, 2010). He is co-editor, with W. Patrick McCray, of the journal Osiris, and has guest edited a FOCUS section of Isis on “Relocating Race,” and a special issue of Postcolonial Studies on “Science, Colonialism, Postcolonialism.” If you have an accessibility or accommodation need for these events, please e-mail Adriana Leviston at adriana.leviston@utoronto.ca to make appropriate arrangements.

For more information about this lecture, please click here.

Location
Victoria College Chapel, Vic 213
91 Charles St W
Toronto
M5S 2C7
Contact
Adriana Leviston
416-828-2457
2019-10-16 18:00:00 2019-10-16 20:00:00 UTC A Lecture by Professor Suman Seth: ‘Constitutions Selection’: Darwin, Race, and Medicine 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. Professor Suman Seth's aim is to show that the reverse was also true: that medicine was a crucial site in which race was forged.Suman Seth is a Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University. He is the author of Difference and Disease: Medicine, Race, and the Eighteenth- Century British Empire (Cambridge, 2018) and Crafting the Quantum: Arnold Sommerfeld and the Practice of Theory, 1890-1926 (MIT, 2010). He is co-editor, with W. Patrick McCray, of the journal Osiris, and has guest edited a FOCUS section of Isis on “Relocating Race,” and a special issue of Postcolonial Studies on “Science, Colonialism, Postcolonialism.” If you have an accessibility or accommodation need for these events, please e-mail Adriana Leviston at adriana.leviston@utoronto.ca to make appropriate arrangements. For more information about this lecture, please click here. 91 Charles St W - Victoria College Chapel, Vic 213 adriana.leviston@utoronto.ca