TEDxNorthwesternU "Identity" took place on Wednesday, December 15.

To view videos from the event, click here.

7:00 – Welcome
Michael Kennedy, PhD; Northwestern University

7:05 – TED video talk

7:25 – “The Biology of Race in the Absence of Biological Races”
Rick Kittles, PhD; Department of Medicine, Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Illinois at Chicago
Defining "race" continues to be a nemesis. Knowledge from human genetic research is increasingly challenging the notion that race and biology are inextricably linked, engendering tremendous ramifications for human relations, identity and public health. It has become fashionable for geneticists and anthropologists to declare that race is a social construction. However, there is little practical value to this belief since few in the public believe and act on it. Thus race is mainly a social concept which in the US has been based on skin color and ancestry. Yet biomedical studies continue to examine black/ white differences. I will discuss why using race in biomedical studies is problematic using examples from U.S. groups which transcend "racial" boundaries and bear the burden of health disparities.

7:45 – TED video talk

8:05 – “Democracy After Anatomy”
Alice Dreger, PhD; Medical Humanities and Bioethics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
America's democratic institutions have historically been restricted - and then opened up - based on appeals to anatomy. Voting, for one, was first essentially restricted to white men. Over time, groups with other anatomies struggled their way into being seen as "created equal." Civil rights movements of all sorts - for sex equality, racial equality, dis/ability equality - have tended to be based on the idea that our common anatomy is more important than our anatomical differences. Yet even today, many legal restrictions are based on anatomical distinctions: age in voting and drinking, viability in abortion and withdrawal of life support, and sex where marriage and the draft are concerned.

As our democracy has matured, it has still retained an ancient reliance on anatomy as deeply meaningful. Yet at the same time, science has been dissolving the bright lines between anatomical categories. So what's next? What could - what will - democracy look like after anatomy?

8:25 – Close and reception


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