Elizabeth and Chauncey Leake Memorial Fund
Can Neuro(Science) be Anti-racist?
Oliver Rollins, PhD
Department of American Ethnic Studies
University of Washington
Thursday, October 28, 2021
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Alongside the deadly COVID-19 outbreak, the biomedical and health sciences have been altered by the continued challenge of racism. Major academic science journals (e.g., Nature, Science, and JAMA) have responded with calls to better recognize and combat the latent harms of (systemic) racism. Yet, it is still unclear what this new confrontation with scientific racism will look like or accomplish? In this talk, I will try to outline what is at stake; that is, both the social and ethical implications of dealing with the effects of race in the (neuro)sciences. I will start by illustrating the dangers of a “color-blind” scientific approach to race using evidence from my study on the neuroscience of violence. Thinking about the ways in which racial inequality can be reinforced through normative scientific and technological practices, I hope to show how the haunting presence of race in neuroscience research is linked to (mis)readings of the social construction of race. My goal is to convince us to think more critically and creatively about how to truly envision and enact an “anti-racist” (neuro)science of the future.