Roundtable - Invited Status Awarded
Invited by: Biological Anthropology Section
Of interest to: Teachers of Anthropology in Community Colleges, Students
Primary Theme: Biologies
Secondary Theme: Race
The false scientific paradigm of biological determinism is resurrected as a form of genetic determinism, providing an abhorrent rationale for undermining equality, access and opportunity. The misunderstanding/misuse of the science of genetics/genomics permeates the American culture, undergirding white nationalism, institutional racism, and the fundamental inability to acknowledge equal humanity in the “other.” The film A DANGEROUS IDEA: EUGENICS, GENETICS AND THE AMERICAN DREAM unwraps the debunked, but resurgent, “science” claiming that certain groups, races and individuals are inherently superior to others and more deserving of fundamental rights. Biological determinism was/is used to justify disenfranchising women, African-Americans, Native Americans, and a wide-range of groups, from the earliest days of the American republic; now it’s a renewed devotion to the view that the “gene” reveals who we are and why we do what we do. With white nationalism being fanned by a president who believes in the myth of genetic determinism, untangling false assumptions is urgent, and altering our collective imaginations of who we are, and what is possible, is central in striving towards goals of societal resilience, justice and equality.
This panel seeks to discuss and engage how to create a change in the anthropological and public imaginations by placing anthropological voices in dialogue with the creators of the film “A DANGEROUS IDEA” to think together. We will address the following:
What tools can we use to ferret out cultural biases that lean on a false paradigm of “the gene”?
In what ways can we use media and accurate science to re-set institutional and individual biases towards equality?
What key assumptions connected to the misrepresentation of genetics lie behind the resurgence of white nationalism?