Garry Bertholf

Associate Scholar

20132014 Forum on Violence

Garry Bertholf

Inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow in Race, Science, and Society
Africana Studies, Sociology

The Biopolitics of Race and Race-Based Biotechnologies

At the turn of the twenty-first century, the Human Genome Project seemed to have dispelled finally the biological notion of race. This situation has changed over the last decade or so with the emergence of race-based pharmacogenetics. In 2005, for example, the FDA approved the first race-specific drug, BiDil, to treat heart failure in black patients. At the same time that the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries conspire to secure race-specific product patents and prescription drugs—patents and drugs which necessarily incorporate assumptions of racial difference at the genetic level—they threaten to reinforce existing medical stereotypes and racial pathologies associated with African Americans. This study posits health as an ongoing political project and calls our attention to the perils of contemporary racial pseudoscience.