After World War II, mainstream science denounced eugenics and the study of racial differences. Yet there remained a staunch group of scientists who continued to research race. For a few decades, these people remained on the fringes of research. Yet now, in the 21st Century, fuelled by a rise in the far right and extremist views, an increasing number of researchers are framing race as a biological construct rather than a social one.
Yet even well-meaning scientists continue to use racial categories in genetics and medicine, betraying their belief that there are biological differences between us, and that race can explain differences in intelligence and disease susceptibility.
In her new book, Superior (£16.99, Fourth Estate), Angela Saini explores the concept of race. She interviews anthropologists, historians, social scientists and geneticists and finds that time after time, the science is retrofitted to accommodate race.
Here, she talks to BBC Science Focus production editor Alice Lipscombe-Southwell.
Listen to more episodes of the Science Focus Podcast:
- Is body positivity the answer to body image issues? – Phillippa Diedrichs
- Is religion compatible with science? – John Lennox
- What makes me ‘me’? – Aoife McLysaght
- Should we be worried about sex robots? – Kate Devlin
- Inequality in science – Angela Saini
- Why aren’t there more women in science?