Race, Science, and Western Society

This course, offered in the UCLA Department of African and African American Studies, explores the origins, development, and persistence of the race concept in Europe and the United States. Focus will be given to how racism, capitalism, and science in the west have developed together. Students also learn of Black figures who have engaged and theorized the links between western science and racism both in the past and present.

Problems of Identity at Biology/Society Interface

This course, offered in the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics, explores the entanglement of biological and social concepts of human difference. The course compares understandings of human difference within population genetics, sociology, anthropology, and public health. Students will examine how different histories have produced human variation and also perceptions of the meaning of that variation—from ancient and contemporary migration patterns to colonialism, slavery, and national conflict in the modern era.

Critical Topics in Public Health

This new class, co-taught and developed with the epigeneticist Patrick Allard (UCLA) and offered for the UCLA Human Biology and Society major, explores how public health research offers us a tool for understanding the many factors that create and determine human life chances. Humans are not simply the products of nature; they are made in the image of the societies we create. This is most clear when we look at the health of populations. Throughout the quarter we will examine how the complex interplay of stress, industrial contaminants, the built environment, discrimination (race, gender, class), and law shape and in many cases determine the ability of people to live with dignity and good health within and outside the United States.

Posthumans

This course, offered in the UCLA Department of African and African American Studies, denaturalizes the concept of the human and with it the uniquely Eurocentric philosophical commitments that sustain the imagined boundaries between human and non-human, Christian and Jew, modern and pre-modern, male and female, abled and disabled, chosen and the condemned, Indigenous and European, African and whiteness, religious and secular. Students will come to understand how theological, scientific, and political beliefs about non-human objects, animals, cyborgs, zombies, and racial others have been used to construct what it means to be human.

Eugenics: Past, Present, and Future Formations

The Eugenics movement was a global phenomenon that emerged during the early half of the 20th-century. It spread throughout the Americas, making its way deep into Latin America, and was equally pervasive in Europe and Asia. At its core, the movement looked to engineer human evolutionary history through controlled breeding, sterilization, and a wide range of public health campaigns aimed at eliminating disease and poor hygiene, while also increasing the ranks and vitality of the (white) middle class. Students in this class will read seminal works that gave the eugenics movement its ideological power. This course will also give considerable attention to the pivotal role played by the state of California in establishing eugenic practices that would have global impact.