Ruha Benjamin

Associate Professor & Arthur H. Scribner Bicentennial Preceptor (On leave Fall 2018)
Department of African American Studies
Faculty Associate
Program in the History of Science, Department of Sociology, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies, Program in Global Health and Health Policy
Ph.D, Sociology
UC Berkeley
office:
003 Stanhope Hall
office phone:
(609) 258-6936
email:
ruha@princeton.edu
twitter:
@ruha9
website:
http://ruhabenjamin.com
Ruha Benjamin

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 2019), and editor of Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination (Duke University Press 2019), 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, California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and Institute for Advanced Study. In 2017, she received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton.

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Courses

AAS 235 / SOC 236
Race is Socially Constructed: Now, What?

The truism that “race is socially constructed” hides more than it reveals. Have Irish Americans always been white? Are people of African descent all black? Is calling Asian Americans a “model minority” a compliment? Does race impact who we date or marry? In this course, students develop a sophisticated conceptual toolkit to make sense of such contentious cases of racial vision and division as the uprising in Ferguson. We learn to connect contemporary events to historical processes, and individual experiences to institutional policies, exercising a sociological imagination with the potential to not only analyze, but transform the status quo.

AAS 301/SOC 367
Black to the Future: Science, Fiction, and Society

Designer Babies. Ancestry Tests. Organ Regeneration. Biometric Surveillance. These and more comprise our 21st century landscape. This interdisciplinary course examines the values and politics that shape science, medicine, and technology, asking who bears the risk and who reaps the benefit of innovations? Social inequality is legitimized, in part, by myths about human difference. And while course participants grapple with past and present stories that shape science and technology, we also apply a sociological imagination to the future, exploring how contemporary hopes and fears may give rise to “real utopias” that are more equitable and just.

AAS 302/SOC 303/ANT 378/GSS 340
Political Bodies: The Social Anatomy Of Power & Difference

In this seminar students will learn about the human body in its social, cultural, and political contexts. The framing is sociological rather than biomedical, attentive to cultural meanings, institutional practices, politics, and social problems. The course explicitly discusses bodies in relation to race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, age, health, geography, and citizenship status, carefully examining how social differences come to appear natural. From clinics to prisons to borders to virtual realities, students develop a conceptual toolkit to analyze how society “gets under the skin”, producing differential exposure to premature death.