BNEC Call for Papers

Call For Papers/Closed

Huddleston Hall, University of New Hampshire
October 20 – 21st, 2017

THE SCIENCE & ENGINEERING OF RACE: Living Through the Archives 

Modern medical and social sciences have made some extraordinary advances through the exploitation of Black bodies while simultaneously allowing myths of racial inferiority to continue as justification for centuries of enslavement and political disenfranchisement.

From the Tuskegee syphilis experiment to the unethical use of Henrietta Lacks’ cells to engineer a polio vaccine, to the ongoing forced sterilization of Black women in clinics and prisons, the story of American scientific advancement carries with it a shadow story of ethical corruption, pain, and silencing. The insidious parallel fictions of the innate athleticism, super strength and natural rhythm of African people are rooted in pseudo-scientific research and writings.

In unpacking this theme, conference presenters are encouraged to examine the historical and current impact of ‘race science’ and pseudoscientific movements to present ‘race as destiny’ on fields of inquiry ranging on areas of modern medicine and health care, reproductive rights, public policy, criminal law, civil rights, athletics, educational access, and effects on the arts and entertainment industries.

Panelists and speakers should demonstrate ways that African-American intellectuals, activists, artists, and social scientists have grappled with the complexities of ‘race science’ and its contemporary iterations in popular culture. Additionally, through specific examples, such as the reclaiming of Portsmouth’s colonial-era African Burying Ground, presenters will examine how the unprecedented popularity of genetic testing is affecting race relations in America today.

Through discussion of these medical and forensic abuses, the conference will uncover past and present applications of scientific fictions that have codified racial hierarchies, and sustain pervasive beliefs with public policies that continue to shape all areas of American life.

Questions to Explore

What does it mean that so many medical ‘advancements’ have derived from unethical and exploitative experimentation on Black bodies? How can honestly engaging these painful legacies change the path forward in terms of discoveries in medicine, mapping the human genome, and life-saving technologies? In what ways do we as a society still cling to biological arguments and identifications with race and racial difference? How have political forces and scientific institutions collaborated to advance ‘discovery’ at the expense of Black self-determination? How do Black professionals in STEM fields contend with and encounter racist practices of pioneers in their fields? How have artists of all kinds wrestled with the legacy of experimentation on Black people, as well as racist tropes propped up by biological arguments of white superiority?

The Black New England Conference, now in its 11th year, is a regularly occurring 2-day gathering to share insights and scholarly work on Black experiences, past and present, in New England. Recent keynote speakers at the conferences have included comedian and activist Dick Gregory, columnist Derrick Jackson, actor and activist Sheryl Lee Ralph, director John W. Franklin, playwright Lydia Diamond, author Lorene Carey, and Professors James Campbell and James O. Horton, with topical presentations by professional and independent scholars, community researchers, writers, artists, and activists. The Conference is both an academic conference and a celebration of Black life and history.

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For More Information

Contact JerriAnne Boggis @ or call 617-539-6886

Contact Info
Mail: PO Box 6772, Portsmouth NH 03801
Phone: 617-539-6886
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