Humanities Institute

2018 Humanities Institute Symposium Keynote Lecture: Alondra Nelson, "The Social Life of DNA"

Distinguished Visiting Lecture in Health, Well-Being, Healing

Thu, February 1, 2018 | POB 2.302 (Avaya Auditorium), 201 East 24th St., Austin, TX 78712

7:00 PM - 8:45 PM

Alondra Nelson,
Alondra Nelson, "The Social Life of DNA"

DNA is considered a master key that unlocks medical and forensic secrets, but its genealogical life is revelatory. This billion-dollar industry has spawned popular television shows, websites, and a booming heritage tourism circuit. African Americans' interest in genetic ancestry testing has been especially robust.  DNA-based techniques are being used to grapple with the unfinished business of slavery: to foster reconciliation, to establish ties with ancestral homelands, to rethink citizenship, and to make legal claims for slavery reparations. As Nelson will describe, for good and for naught, the double helix has wound its way into the heart of some of the most urgent contemporary social issues around racial inequality. 

Alondra Nelson is professor of sociology and the inaugural  Dean of Social Science  at Columbia University. On September 1, 2017, she  became President of the Social Science Research Council, an independent nonprofit that for more than nine decades has been dedicated to advancing research for the public good. She is the author of  The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome  and  Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight against Medical Discrimination, which was recognized with  multiple scholarly awards  and has been translated into French. Chair-elect of the Science, Knowledge and Technology Section of the American Sociological Association, her books also include  Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History and  Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life. In 2002, she edited “Afrofuturism,” an influential special issue of  Social Text

Dr. Nelson has contributed to national policy discussions on  inequality  and about the social implications of new technologies, including  artificial intelligence, big data, and  human gene-editing. Alondra serves on the board of directors of the  Data & Society Research Institute. She sits on the editorial boards of Social Studies of Science,Social Text, and Public Culture. Her essays, reviews, and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Science, and on National Public Radio, among other venues.  

Please join the Humanities Institute and the Department of Sociology for this Distinguishved Visiting Lecture in Health, Well-Being, Healing on February 1, 2018 at 7pm in the Avaya Auditorium. Dr. Nelson's lecture serves as the keynote address for the Humanities Institute's 2018 Faculty Fellows Symposium. These events are part of the Health & Humanities Pop-Up Institute


Sponsored by: The Humanities Institute through the Holloway Centennial Lectureship and the Department of Sociology

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