Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-first Century

Dorothy Roberts. New Press, $29.95 (400p) ISBN 978-1-59558-495-3
Roberts, a lawyer and sociology professor, examines the development and contemporary consequences of "race as a political system," bringing science, law, commerce, and race ideologies, virtual thickets of controversy, under one canopy. After demonstrating how, historically, "race was literally manufactured by law," and offering an admirably intelligible account of genomic theory, she considers the extent to which the new approaches "tend to merely repackage race as a genetic category rather than replace it." DNA becomes a "marketable commodity," one consequence being that "race soon became the linchpin for turning the vision of tomorrow's personalized medicine into today's profit-making drugs." As she assesses the "new biopolitics of race," she argues that "Race-based medicine gives people a morally acceptable reason to hold onto their belief in intrinsic racial difference." While "pharmacogenomics," "epigenetic," and "allele" are not in most of our conversations, and while the specialized journals Roberts has made germane use of, for support or to controvert, are not most readers' regular stuff, Roberts is consistently lucid. Her book is alarming but not alarmist, controversial but evidential, impassioned but rational. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2011
Release date: 07/01/2011
Paperback - 388 pages - 978-1-59558-834-0
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