Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin

On Sabbatical from the Department of African American Studies for the 2016-2017 Academic Year

Ruha Benjamin specializes in the interdisciplinary study of science, medicine, and technology; race-ethnicity and gender; knowledge and power. She is author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press 2013), Race After Technology (Polity, forthcoming), and editor of Captivating Technology: Race, Technoscience, and the Carceral Imagination (Duke University Press, forthcoming), as well as numerous articles and book chapters.

Professor Benjamin received her BA in sociology and anthropology from Spelman College, MA and PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics and Harvard University’s Science, Technology, and Society Program. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine among others, and is a 2016-17 Member at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) where she continues work on the following projects:

  • The Emperor’s New Genes is a multi-sited investigation of how human population genomics reflects, reinforces, and sometimes challenges socio-political classifications such as race, caste, and citizenship. This study explores how the social dimensions of genomics are enacted in different national contexts, with special attention to how “genomic sovereignty” and public health are configured in the process. Papers related to this project are published in Policy & Society; Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science; and Reimagining Biomedicalization, Pharmaceuticals, and Genetics: Old Critiques and New Engagements.

  • Black to the Future: An Imagination Incubator includes workshops, publications, and collaborations that examine and experiment with speculative fiction as a site of sociological knowledge and praxis. This project draws together the arts, activism, and scholarship to imagine and enact alternative social realities that are more just and habitable than the present. Work related to this project is published in Discover Society; Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, and Technoscience; and Kalfou: A Journal of Comparative and Relational Ethnic Studies.

Taken together, this body of work addresses debates about how science and technology shape the social world and how people can, should, and do engage with science and technology.