Histories of science and religion have been deeply intertwined with colonial and postcolonial history. Colonial claims to legitimacy were often rooted in perceptions of scientific and technological superiority, and colonial expansion often marched in lockstep with missionary activity and forced conversions. In the process, race and human difference emerged as concepts at the intersection of scientific and religious discourses and was forged within the colonial framework. This colonial history of science and religion impacted how scientific and religious thought, practices and institutions developed through the period of decolonization and into today. Similarly, the attendant history of race and human difference continues to influence postcolonial and contemporary discourses around race, ethnicity, identity and migration. In this course, we will trace key moments in the history of science and religion and their relation to coloniality. We will start in the sixteenth century with the rise of modern European empires, move into the height of modern colonialism, indigenous genocides and chattel slavery, and trace decolonization from the middle of the nineteenth into today. Throughout, we will investigate how science and religion emerged as concepts, practices and institutions, and how these narratives impacted, and were impacted by colonial expansion and history. We will pay particular attention to questions of race, gender, sexuality and human difference as key concepts and practices that emerged at the intersections of science, religion and (post)colonialism
The Class: Format: seminar
Requirements/Evaluation: 2 response papers (3-5pages each) + final project (could be a 10-15p paper or creative project of any kind)
Enrollment Preferences: Concentrators, followed by seniors and juniors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
DPE Notes: The course addresses questions of race, gender, sexuality and human difference as seen through the history of science, technology and medicine. Students will creatively engage with critical race theory, postcolonial theory and queer theory. They will also investigate human suffering as a category that provides a deeper understanding of difference, diversity and equality.