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History of Race and Racism in Science


Race is one of the many ways that we categorize other people, and ourselves, as we move through the world today. How have scientists, researchers, and physicians - experts whom we often view as objective -understood, measured, and reproduced since the 18th century? How has scientific inquiry both justified and perpetuated racism, embedding ideas about racial difference into science itself? And what does the embodiment of race in science do to the way we experience health? This course explores the scientific construction of race and racism from the 18th century to the present by examining primary and secondary sources in the life sciences, social sciences and medicine. 


Dr. Ijeoma Kola is a historian of science and medicine, her research focuses on race and health, the medical and social construction of disease, and Black health social movements. Her current project examines the history of race and asthma in nineteenth and twentieth century Black urban spaces. Dr. Kola’s scholarship has been supported by the National Science Foundation. She received her Ph.D. in Socio-Medical Sciences from Columbia University.