Future Perfect: Designer and Discarded Genomes

Speaker: Ruha Benjamin
Date recorded: Jun 16, 2017
Ruha Benjamin presents her talk ‘Designer and Discarded Genomes: Experimenting with sociological imagination through speculative methods,’ a series of speculative field notes on the possibility of human prototrophy.

Ruha Benjamin’s presentation entitled “designer and discarded genomes: experimenting with sociological imagination through speculative methods” uses speculative field notes to explore the antecedents and implications of the current era of genetic engineering.

This talk was presented for the event Future Perfect. In a moment when the future increasingly feels like a foregone conclusion, Future Perfect brought actors from a variety of world-building disciplines (from art and fiction, to law and science) together to explore the uses, abuses, and paradoxes of speculative futures. Curated by Data & Society artist-in-residence Ingrid Burrington, Future Perfect was an experimental one-day, invitation-only conference originating from insights of the institute’s regular Speculative Fiction Reading Group.

Ruha Benjamin is Assistant Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press), and 2016-17 fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. Her work examines the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine with a particular focus on the relationship between innovation and inequity. She earned her PhD in Sociology from UC Berkeley, completed fellowships at UCLA’s Institute for Genetics and Society and Harvard’s Science, Technology, and Society Program, and has received grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and California Institute for Regenerative Medicine among others. Her work is published in numerous journals including Science, Technology, and Human Values; Ethnicity & Health; and Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science.