Racism, Ethnicity, Health and Society


Racialised thinking about human diversity underlies some infamous medical and scientific abuses, although in some cases the form of discrimination is cloaked in the language of ethnicity. A central dilemma of measuring equity along the lines of ethnicity is that categories of difference are inevitably reinforced. Although measuring iniquity may facilitate its redress, it may also reify and reinforce categories which are the basis of discrimination. The role of historical manifestations of racism in the case of rickets and sickle cell disease are discussed. The compounding of racialised disadvantage with other forms of marginalisation is discussed in terms of individual and institutional discrimination with regard to the origins of the HeLa cell line.

Keywords: racism; ethnicity; race; terminology; prejudice


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Further Reading

Jones JH (1993) Bad Blood. Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. New York, NY: Free Press.

Marteau T and Richards M (eds) (1996) The Troubled Helix. Social and Psychological Implications of the New Human Genetics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Wailoo K and Pemberton S (2006) The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine. Ethnicity and Innovation in Tay‐Sachs, Cystic Fibrosis, and Sickle Cell Disease. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press.

Web Links

Center for Genetics and Society . http://www.geneticsandsociety.org/

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Bradby, Hannah(Mar 2012) Racism, Ethnicity, Health and Society. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005660.pub2]