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- The Power of an Illusion
Project Advisors and Consultants
Race – The Power of an Illusion benefited from the review and advice of some brilliant scholars who have long wrestled with race from the perspectives of several fields – biology, genetics, history of science, philosophy, evolution and anthropology. Our advisors generously shared their own research and contacts, evaluated our treatments, and reviewed the project during script development, assembly and rough-cut.
We also gathered a corps of scholars for a two and a half day ‘School" held in New York with our production team where they subjected our conceptualization to a rigorous critique and considered contending interpretations and points of view.
We are very much in the debt of all the scholars who gave so generously of their time and thinking. But ultimately, we were the ones who interpreted their work. To the extent our series is deficient, it is due entirely to our own shortcomings, not theirs.
Ira Berlin - Distinguished University Professor of History, University of Maryland, is acclaimed for books on slavery and American history (most recently, the Bancroft winning Many Thousands Gone) as readable as they are insightful. He is indispensable to our sorting through the many historiographic controversies of Episode One. But as president of the Organization of American Historians, NEH council member and consultant to series like The Civil War, he is especially concerned with constructing history the public can digest and get excited about.
John Cheng - Commonwealth Assistant Professor of History, George Mason University, bridges disparate disciplines - cultural studies, Asian American history, race relations, and the history of science, technology, and popular culture - to bring a uniquely broad perspective to our consideration of race. He has been a consultant to projects at the Smithsonian Institution and to the President’s Initiative on Race: One America. He is also advising our Race Gallery Web Site.
Troy Duster - Chancellor's Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and also Professor of Sociology at New York University, is nationally renowned for his work on the social and racial implications of genetics research. He chaired the Ethical, Legal and Social Issues Working Group of the Human Genome Project, is president-elect of the American Sociological Association. He is also author of Backdoor to Eugenics and Race: Essays on the Concept and Its Uses in Multi-Racial and Multi-Cultural Societies.
Alan Goodman – Professor of Anthropology, Hampshire College, studies bones to understand how culture and political economy affect biology – and vice versa. He’s the co-editor of Building a New Biocultural Synthesis and Genetic Nature/Culture. He is president-elect of the American Anthropological Association.
Joseph Graves, Jr. – Visiting Professor of Evolutionary Biology at Embry Riddle University has done extensive work on aging in Drosophila melangoster (the beloved fruit fly of geneticists) and was elected a fellow of the Council of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His recent book, The Emperor’s New Clothes: Biological Theories of Race at the Millenum, is one of the very few comprehensive work on race, human variation and population genetics. He’s helping make certain we get our genetics right, especially how human variation manifests on the molecular level and the complex relationship between genotype and phenotype.
Evelynn Hammonds – Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, brings special insight into the history of scientific, medical and socio-political concepts of race. She is helping us understand the interplay of race and science, particularly the rupture of the old racial paradigm. Her latest book is The Logic of Difference: A History of Race in Science and Medicine in the United States (in press). She is also the producer of the RacSci web site, one of the few interdisciplinary race and science sites on the web, and was recently named a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer.
Faye Harrison – Professor of Anthropology at the University of Tennessee, brings us an understanding of intellectual history and the intersection of race, gender and class. She wrote the seminal review article, "The Persistent Power of ‘Race" in the Cultural and Political Economy of Racism," guest edited the American Anthropologist’s special issue on race, and was a founder of the American Anthropological Association’s Public Education Initiative on Race and Human Variation.
Karen Ordahl Kupperman, Silver Professor of History at New York University, is a distinguished authority on early American history who has authored several acclaimed books about colonial encounters between Native Americans and the English, most recently, Indians and English: Facing Off in Early America, a Bancroft Award winner. She has chaired the Council of the Institute of Early American History and Culture and the editorial board of the William and Mary Quarterly. She is helping us make sense of early ideas of difference as Indians and English not only gazed at each other, but presented their own selves to each other as they each attempted to incorporate the other into their own world.
Richard Lewontin – Alexander Agassiz Professor Emeritus of Zoology at Harvard University, is one of the world’s most eminent authorities on human diversity. He is past president of the Society for the Study of Evolution and an articulate critic of biological determinism. We’ve devoured his many celebrated books on evolution and human variation books including Human Diversity, Not in Our Genes, The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change, and most recently, The Triple Helix. He was the first to measure the apportionment of human variation among and between populations.
Jonathan Marks – Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, is a molecular anthropologist who has written extensively about race, evolution and genetics. His book Human Biodiversity: Genes, Race and History tackled ideas of race and human variation while What It Means to Be 98% Chimpanzee takes on many of the misconceptions about genetics and issues of similarity and difference.
Michael Omi – Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley, is also the Director of UC Berkeley’s Institute for the Study of Social Change. His book Racial Formation in the United States (with Howard Winant) is a seminal text for all those hoping to understand the social and historical forces that give race its changing meanings over time and place, including today.
Pilar Ossorio – Assistant Professor of Law and Medical Ethics, University of Wisconsin, is a bioethicist who combines her law degree with a Ph.D. in microbiology. She was associate director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Medicine at the University of Wisconsin, Director of the Genetics Section of the American Medical Associations Institute of Ethics (1997 – 2000), and co-chair of the Germ-line, Genetic Intervention Working Group of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1998-99), and on the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Microbial and Comparative Genomics. She is helping us make sense of the many confusing studies on race, disease and drug response.
Robert Pollack - Professor of biology and former Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University, worked for years with James Watson, co-discover of DNA. He now explores the social implications of medical and genetics research as director of Columbia’s Center for the Study of Science and Religion. His seven books include Signs of Life: The Language and Meanings of DNA and The Faith of Biology and the Biology of Faith .
Audrey Smedley – Professor of Anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University, has spent several decades investigating not the evolution of our species but the evolution of how we think about our species. We have been relying on her landmark book, Race in North America: Origins and Evolution of a Worldview, a rare synthetic history of the race concept. She is author of the American Anthropological Association’s position paper on ‘race,’ and the new millennial edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s entry on ‘Race.’
Patricia Williams – Professor of Law at Columbia University, noted author and social critic. Her influential essays on race, gender and legal theory include The Alchemy of Rights and Wrongs, Seeing a Color Blind Future, and the column "Diary of a Mad Law Professor" for The Nation. She is a MacArthur "Genius" Fellow and is helping us understand how race is not just a vestige from the past but is produced and reproduced today.
Genetics Consultant – Andrew Berry, Ph.D.
Copyright (c) California Newsreel, 2003
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