Race and Ethnicity in STS: STSS-6963
Ron Eglash, Fall 2012, Fridays 10:00-12:50PM, SAGE 5711

Learning objectives:
Students will be able to demonstrate understanding in three areas at the intersection of STS with the technosocial phenomena of race and ethnicity. First, they will engage a critical analysis of the past and contemporary “science of race” and its applications (genetics, anthropometry, personalized medicine, etc.) through the lens of STS. Second, they will reflect on the relation between technology design and race/ethnicity, including “appropriated technologies,” “technology-embedded race,” and the political economy of race/technology relations. Third, they will explore some of the literature, as well as develop their own thinking, around how conceptual and practical interventions might take place in these relationships between race/ethnicity and science/technnology.

To contact instructor:
Office Hours: Monday 1-3 and by appointment, 5502 Sage. Email: eglash@rpi.edu, phone: 276-2048. Course webpage: http://www.rpi.edu/~eglash/eglash.dir/rests/rests.html


The reading reflections (4-6 pages) are based strictly on the reading assignments for class; no original research is required. Your reflections can cover them broadly or focus on just a few. They would be a good candidate to be re-purposed as part of your portfolios, so make sure you adhere to scholarly grammar, analysis, language and format (e.g. MLA or U. Chicago citation practices). The research paper (minimum 10 pages) can be anything related to race and ethnicity, and of course should also be formal academic writing. You are welcome to use your own empirical research as well as researching literature. .

Academic Honesty:

While ideas are available to everyone, credit for ideas, and the particular text used to express them, belongs to their originator. Plagiarism occurs when a student attempts to pass the ideas or words of someone else as their own (cf. http://www.google.com/search?q=define:PLAGIARISM). It is surprisingly easy to do. For example, students who are not writing in their first language will sometimes try to use a sentence from another written text, simply because they are worried about their grammar. Plagiarism also occurs when a quotation is reworded in an attempt to avoid citation—always make sure the sources of your quotations are specifically cited. The internet makes plagiarism particularly tempting, since you can copy and paste from the web to your paper. Recycling your own paper from another course would not be plagiarism, but it would be academic dishonesty and thus subject to the same penalties. Plagiarism will result in failing the course (a grade of “F”).

Special Needs
Please contact me if you have special needs such as disability or religious holidays.

Note that articles in the syllabus designated (GUP) are from  Genetics and the Unsettled Past. Those designated (RAI) are from  Race after the Internet . The following books are also required, and any remaining articles will be hyperlinked in the syllabus or on class reserve at the library.

Course Schedule:

Part I: Sciences of Race

8/31 Introduction.

9/7 Gould, Mismeasure of Man

9/14 What does it mean to say “race is a social construction”?
Gabriel, “A Biologist’s Perspective on DNA and Race.” (GUP)
French Families, Paper Facts (GUP)
Lee, “Waiting on the Promise of Prescribing Precision” (GUP)
Hartigan, “Is Race Still Socially Constructed?

9/21 Race as Information
Chow-white, “The Informationalization of Race.” (GUP)
Nelson, “Roots and Revelation.” (RAI)
Boyd, “White Flight in Networked Publics?” (RAI)
Lecture:  “Towards a Cybernetics of Race.”

9/28 Race and Justice
Wilson and Costanza-Chock: New Voices on the Net? (RAI)
Nelson, “Reconciliation Projects” (GUP)
Reardon and TallBear “Your DNA Is Our History” Genomics, Anthropology, and the Construction of Whiteness as Property.”
Lecture, “Broken Metaphor.”

Part II: Race, Ethnicity, and Technology

10/5 (first paper due) Race embedded in technology
Chun, Race and/as Technology (RAI)
Fouche, “From Black Inventors to One Laptop per Child.” (RAI)
Chappell, “Take a little trip with me.” (class reserves)
Sandvig, “Connection at Ewiiaapaayp Mountain” (RAI)

10/12 Race and ethnicity in political economy
Aihwa Ong. “The Production of Possession: Spirits and the Multinational Corporation in Malaysia.”
Hossfeld, "Their Logic Against Them: Contradictions in Sex, Race, and Class in Silicon Valley,"
Taussig, The Genesis of Capitalism amongst a South American Peasantry: Devil's Labor and
the Baptism of Money
Lamont and Lareau, “Cultural Capital: Allusions, Gaps and Glissandos in Recent Theoretical

10/19 Burrell, Invisible Users: Youth in the Internet Cafes of Urban Ghana

Part III: Race and Technoscience:  Praxis Interventions

10/26   (second paper due) African Fractals
Assignment: use applet at http://csdt.rpi.edu/african/African_Fractals/index.html to design your own fractal. Email image and description (narrative of some sort) to instructor.

11/2 Race and STEM Education
Seiter, Practicing at Home: Computers, Pianos, and Cultural Capital
Lamont, Mathematical Counterstory and African American Male Students: Urban Mathematics Education from a Critical Race Theory Perspective.
Gutstein, Teaching and Learning Mathematics for Social Justice in an Urban, Latino School
Lecture, Culturally Situated Design Tools

11/9 Environmental Racism

Mascarenhas, “Rethinking Environmental Racism" (class reserves)
Bickford, "Constructing Inequality: City Spaces and the Architecture of Citizenship"
Kelly, "Looking to get paid"

Optional: Swezey and Faber, "Disarticulated Accumulation, Agroexport, and Ecological Crisis in Nicaragua"

Part IV: Conceptual Interventions

11/16 (third paper due) Intersectionality.

Eglash, “Race, Sex and Nerds.”
Knudson, "Intersectionality - A Theoretical Inspiration"
Haraway, Modest Witness chapter 5
Sandovol, “"Cyborg Feminism and the Methodology of the Oppressed"

11/23 No class -- Thanksgiving break

11/30 Self/Other/Ooloi
Butler, Dawn.  
Wald, “Cells, Genes, and Stories: HeLa's Journey from Labs to Literature.” (GUP)

12/7 (forth paper due) Class oral presentations.

12/10 (No class) -- final research paper due