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Date of this Version



Calvert, Scout (2009) "The Literature of Difference In Cultures of Science," Criticism: Vol. 51 : Iss. 3 , Article 9. Available at:


Review of The Nature of Difference: Sciences of Race in the United States from Jefferson to Genomics, edited by Evelynn M. Hammonds and Rebecca M. Herzig.

The Nature of Difference is a timely addition to conversations about race and genomics, organized so as to allow readers to make new connections between contemporary discourses and the histories of science and race. The text’s selections and the organization of the selections with introductory material are especially helpful, serving as navigational aids to the sometimes astounding statements of racial fact that could otherwise be conversation stoppers. The book would be useful either as a course text or as a collection of primary material for individual research. Students wishing to track the scientific construction of sex and sexuality more directly alongside race should consider pairing this text with Lucy Bland and Laura Doan’s 1998 edited volume of primary sources, Sexology Uncensored. For those looking for analysis of the production of genetic racial difference, Revisiting Race in a Genomic Age, edited by Barbara Koenig, Sandra Soo-Jin Lee, and Sarah Richardson (2008), keys its essays to genomics, race-based medicine, and genetic ancestry, while Genetic Nature/Culture, edited by Alan Goodman, Deborah Heath, and M. Susan Lindee (2003), offers an anthropological approach and respected scholars in science studies (Troy Duster, Sarah Franklin, Joan Fujimura, Donna Haraway, Rayna Rapp, and Hilary Rose, to name just a selection). Both of these essay collections would help students see how the analytic questions suggested by Hammonds and Herzig open up the apparently settled domain of science for productive interdisciplinary inquiry.