Call for Participation Boston University Emerging Scholars Program: Addressing Race and Racism in Anthropological Genetics and Genomics

From Galton’s work on heritability to the US eugenics movement of the early 20th century, the study of human genetics has historically been undergirded by racism and white supremacy. Contemporary biological anthropology has explicitly undercut this in a number of ways, yet concepts from eugenics and racial essentialism are still popularly ascribed to and disseminated. Additionally, the study of genetics and genomics retains the appearance of being a largely white endeavor, studying mostly white subjects, eliciting questions regarding how a lack of diversity in those conducting such research influences how we engage with race in genetics and genomics research.

The Department of Anthropology at Boston University invites four (4) Emerging Scholars whose work or outreach focuses on this issue to participate in our Spring 2022 program: Addressing Race and Racism in Anthropological Genetics and Genomics. The program will have two parts:

1. Each scholar will be individually invited to speak with the BU community (over Zoom) in February through April, 2022 to discuss their work with students in the context of coursework on race and racism in human genetics and genomics, followed by a moderated public Q & A of their work. These visits will be compensated with an honorarium.

2. The program will culminate in an in-person public roundtable discussion and reception, followed by a private dinner with the other Emerging Scholars on the BU campus in mid-May of 2022, for which all travel/food/lodging will be paid. The roundtable will be moderated by 2021 Robert Sussman Award recipient Dr. Jada Benn Torres of Vanderbilt University. Dr. Benn Torres is a genetic anthropologist and leader of the Genetic Anthropology and Bio-Cultural Studies Lab, and works among Anglo Caribbean populations to explore genetic ancestry and population history of African and Indigenous Caribbean peoples, while also using the tools and theories of genetic epidemiology and anthropology to study health disparities across human populations.

Intended Participants: The Emerging Scholars Program at Boston University seeks to build community for scholars who are underrepresented in the academy, focusing on scholars from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. We invite graduate students near the end of their programs, recently-graduated Ph.D. holders, postdoctoral scholars, and early-stage faculty, and particularly encourage participation by Indigenous, Black, and Latine/Latinx scholars.

Interested participants: please send a current CV and short letter of interest (no longer than one page) outlining how your research/outreach work addresses race and/or racism in anthropological genetics and genomics to Dr. Christopher A. Schmitt (caschmit [at] bu [dot] edu). Please make the subject of your email “Emerging Scholars Participation”. Questions about the program may be directed to the same address.

We will consider interested participants until midnight on January 30, 2021. Selected participants will be notified no later than February 10, 2022.

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