Concluding Remarks: Social Justice Requires Biocritical Inquiry


  • Terence D. Keel Temple University Press



Our debate here, among social constructionists, has pivoted precisely on the fact that social constructionists are suspicious of claims about race and genetics for reasons that are much larger than science—issues tied to the limits of language and epistemology, the influence of cultural factors on knowledge production, and the economic realities that order social life. Unjust social and political systems necessarily alter the biological lives of marginalized groups and populations. Therefore legacies of discrimination, pernicious policy decisions, and economic inequality must be framed as causal factors in the emergence of health disparities and human biodiversity more generally. Social justice requires what I term a “biocritical inquiry,” which reverses the orthodox practice of situating genes as the base, foundation, and unmoved movers of human health, behavior, and perceived racial difference. Instead, biocritical inquiry synthesizes scientific research and critical forms of humanistic inquiry that denaturalize genetic differences, revealing the social inequalities and historical legacies of violence, conflict, and discrimination that are inseparable from human biological diversity.