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The protests that followed the murder of George Floyd have brought to the fore the realities of racism and violence that Black, Indigenous and People of Color experience daily. They also motivated a long overdue reckoning in various fields and institutions with the legacy of structural racism, and of colonial history.
The history of modern science and technology is intractably connected to colonial expansion, decolonization and neo-colonialism. From genocide of Indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans, to colonial medicine, eugenics and the atomic bomb, to the out-sourcing of expensive and environmentally hazardous technologies to the Global South, modern science and technology cannot be fully understood without serious reckoning with the history of colonialism, race, gender and sexuality. In this course, we will investigate the history of modern science and technology at a global level from the sixteenth century to today. We will look at how scientific knowledge and institutions influenced and were influenced by colonial expansion and decolonization, by racism and antiracist struggles, by questions of gender and sexuality and by feminist and LGBTQ+ activism.
The course will move through different episodes using objects and case studies to understand the history of science and technology, and discuss the methods of science and technology studies.
This course is an introduction to Science and Technology Studies. It will be accompanied by an advanced seminar (201) for more advanced students interested in these questions.
Format: seminar; Remote
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
two or three short exercises, two papers (3-5 pages and 5-7 pages), and two hour exams
first-years and sophomores
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
The course addresses how epidemics, and the way medical and political institutions dealt with them, were shaped by issues of race, gender, sexuality and human difference, and how epidemics in turn impacted perception of race, gender and sexuality.