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Race and Technology Reading Group

This reading group is for those who want to learn more about the many ways in which race, racism, and technology intersect, and how this came to be.

Facilitated by the AI Narratives and Justice Programme at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI), the Race and Technology Reading Group aims to introduce people from across disciplines and backgrounds to key concepts surrounding race and technology.

The Black Lives Matter protests in the US during the summer of 2020 starkly brought to our attention the role racism and discrimination continue to play to this day. At the same time, we are confronted on an almost weekly basis with stories of new technologies that replicate or exacerbate existing inequalities.

While concepts such as ‘algorithmic bias’, ‘decolonization’, and ‘white privilege’ are familiar to many through these stories, the decades of academic research underlying them - mostly by people of colour - are familiar to very few. 

This reading group is for those who want to learn more about the many ways in which race, racism, and technology intersect, and how this came to be. 

It is divided into three parts (one per term for this academic year): 1. key concepts in race and racism; 2. theories and themes in the entanglement of race with science and technology; and 3. how these themes manifest in contemporary digital technology.

Dates and times

The reading group will meet virtually for 90 minutes every other Tuesday, 11-12:30, for five sessions per term.  
You can find the full details on the Michaelmas and Lent sessions below, as well as the topics for the Easter sessions. 

Register for a session

You can register for any of the reading group meetings in advance using the following link:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting, and a Google Drive link to the readings (where available).

Full Schedule

TERM II - Lent Term 2021. Race, Science and Technology: Theory and Themes

II.1. 26.1.21: Technology and white supremacy in the age of empire.

Stephen Cave
Must: Michael Adas (1989). Machines as the Measure of Men: Science, Technology, and Ideologies of Western Dominance, pp.194-236
Should: Sinclair, B. (2004). 'Integrating the histories of race and technology.' In Technology and the African-American Experience: Needs and Opportunities for Study, edited by Bruce Sinclair, 1-17. MIT Press.
Could: On race in the practice of history of technology: de la Peña, C. (2010). 'The history of technology, the resistance of archives, and the whiteness of race'. Technology and Culture, 51(4), 919–937.
On the history of race, imperialism and technology as manifest in posthumanism and transhumanism: Joel Dinerstein (2006), ‘Technology and Its Discontents: On the Verge of the Posthuman’. American Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 3, 

II.2. 09.2.21: Scientific Racism 1: taxonomy and hierarchies of the human. 

Stephen Cave
Must: John Carson - The Measure of Merit: Talents, Intelligence, and Inequality in the French and American Republics, 1750-1940. Chapter 3: All Men Are Created Equal? Anthropology, Intelligence, And The Science Of Race. [Content note: quotation of racial slurs.]
Should: None 
Could: Stephen Jay Gould - The Mismeasure of Man - any and all, but especially Chapter 2. [Content note: quotation of racial slurs.]
Angela Saini - Superior: The Return of Race Science - any and all, eg Chapters 2 and 3.
Stephen Cave - ‘The Problem with Intelligence: Its Value-Laden History and the Future of AI’ for how scientific racism and the history of intelligence might relate to AI.

II.3. 23rd February, 11am. Violence, Reproduction, and Racialisation in the History of Medicine. 

Kerry Mackereth
Must: Introduction, Roberts, D. (1997) Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Pantheon. [Content note: quotation of racial slurs;references to and discussion of slavery, sexual violence, forced sterilization, and extremely racist views]
Should: Chapter 10, ‘Black Pill’ in Saini, A. (2019) Superior: The Return of Race Science. London: 4th Estate. Available online through iDiscover. 
Could: Chapters 1-3 Roberts, D. (1997) Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty. New York: Pantheon. [Content note: quotation of racial slurs;discussion of slavery, sexual violence, forced sterilization, eugenics, extremely racist views]
Chapter 1, ‘Anatomically Speaking: Ungendered Flesh and the Science of Sex’, in Snorton, C. (2017) Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Available online through iDiscover. [Content note: contains explicit and extensive discussions of sexual violence, medical experimentation, and slavery] 

II.4. 09.3.21: Science, imperialism and indigenous epistemologies. 

Eleanor Drage
Must:  D Broughton, (Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Taranaki, Ngāti Porou, Ngāpuhi), K McBreen & (Waitaha, Kāti Māmoe, Ngāi Tahu), “Mātauranga Māori, tino rangatiratanga and the future of New Zealand science”, Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 45:2, 2015, pp.83-88, DOI: 10.1080/03036758.2015.1011171 (Full article, 6 pages)
Shiva, Vandana. “Introduction”. Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. London: Zed Books, 1988, Pp. Xii-xviii 
(7 pages)  
Should: Shizha, Edward. “Introduction”. In G. Emeagwali & E. Shizha (Eds.), African Indigenous Knowledge and the Sciences, 2016, pp. 47–62. (15 pages) 
Black Elk, Linda. “Native Science: Understanding and Respecting Other Ways of Thinking”. Rangelands, Volume 38, Issue 1, 2016, pp 3-4, (2 pages!)
Could: Cajete, Gregory. “Philosophy as a Native Science”. Native science: Natural Laws of Interdependence". Clear Light Publishers, 2000, pp. 66-83. 
Mavhunga, Clapperton Chakanets. “Introduction”. Transient Workspaces : Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe, MIT Press, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,, pp. 5-17. 
12 pages. 

II.5. 23.3.21: Decolonising contemporary technology 

Kanta Dihal

 Must: Mohamed, Shakir, Marie-Therese Png, and William Isaac. 2020. ‘Decolonial AI: Decolonial Theory as Sociotechnical Foresight in Artificial Intelligence’. Philosophy & Technology 33 (4): 659–84.
Should: The rest of the Philosophy and Technology special issue on Intercultural Digital Ethics
Camera Obscura, special issue: Race And/As Technology (I especially recommend the introduction by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun) 
Could: Kolko, Beth, Lisa Nakamura, and Gilbert Rodman, eds. 2000. Race in Cyberspace. New York: Routledge.
Gaskins, Nettrice R. (2019) Techo-Vernacular Creativity and Innovation across the African Diaspora and Global South. In Ruha Benjamin (ed), Captivating Technology.
Waghid F. (2019) Towards Decolonisation Within University Education: On the Innovative Application of Educational Technology. In: Manthalu C., Waghid Y. (eds) Education for Decoloniality and Decolonisation in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.


Term I: Understanding Race and Racism 

1) 06.10.20 11am - Histories of race and racism

Must:  Chapter 3: ‘Creating a White Racial Frame: The First Century.’ The White Racial Frame. Joe R. Feagin. Routledge, 2014.
Should: Racism: A Very Short Introduction. Ali Rattansi. Oxford UP, 2nd ed. 2020. 
‘Race as Biology Is Fiction, Racism as a Social Problem Is Real.’ Audrey Smedley & Brian D. Smedley. American Psychologist, 2005, 16-26.
Could‘The Breaking and the Making: Becoming Brown’. A Fly Girl’s Guide to University. Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan. Verve, 2019, pp. 24-33.
Chapter 1: ‘Histories’. Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. Reni Eddo-Lodge. Bloomsbury, 2017, pp. 1-56.

2) 20.10.20 11am - Race and racism today

MustChapter 1: “The Crisis of ‘Race’ and Raciology”. Gilroy, Paul. Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Colour Line, Harvard UP, 2000, 11-53. 
Should:  Younge, Gary. “From Windrush to Grenfell, the powerful only see tragedy when it suits them”. 11/05/2018, 
Brubaker, Roger. Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities. Princeton UP, 2016. Pp-1-14; 80-91; 104-108; 122-130.
Could:  Hirsch, Afua. Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging, 2018.  
Zake, Ieva. “The Construction of National(Ist) Subject: Applying the Ideas of Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault to Nationalism.” Social Thought & Research 25: 1/2, 2002, pp. 217–246. 
Coates, Ta-Nehisi. “The Case for Reparations.” The Atlantic 2014  

3) 03.11.20 11am - De-, Post-, and Neo-colonialism

Must: ‘Defining the Terms: Colonialism, Imperialism, Neo-Colonialism, Postcolonialism.’ Colonialism/Postcolonialism. Ania Loomba. Second ed. 2005. Routledge. Pp. 7-22. 
Should:  Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.
‘Discourse on Colonialism’. Aimé Césaire. Transl. Joan Pinkham. Monthly Review Press, (1955) 1972. [PDF]
Could:  ‘Introduction.’ Decolonizing Methodologies. Linda Tuhiwai Smith. Zed Books, 2008, pp. 1-18. [PDF]

4) 17.11.20 12pm - Whiteness 

Must:  Chapter 1, White. Richard Dyer. 1997. Routledge. Pp 1-40.
Should:  Chapter 11, Representations of Whiteness in the Black Imagination, Black Looks. bell hooks. 1992/2014. Routledge. Pp 165-178. 
Could:  ‘White Fragility’. Robin DiAngelo. 2011. Int. Journal of Critical Pedagogy 3 (3).
‘White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack’. Peggy McIntosh. 1990. Independent School 49(2), 31-36.

5) 01.12.20 11am - Intersectionality

MustChapter 1, ‘What is Intersectionality?’ in Intersectionality by Patricia Hill Collins and Sirma Bilge (online) 
Should: ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex’ - Kimberlé Crenshaw (online) 
Could‘Intersectionality and its Discontents: Intersectionality as Travelling Theory’, Introduction and Section 1, ‘Intersectionality’s Beginnings’ - Sara Salem (online) 
‘“I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess”: Becoming-Intersectional in Assemblage Theory’, Introduction and Section 1, ‘Intersectionality and its Discontents’ (online) 

Term III: Race and Digital Technologies

III.1. 27.4.21: Race and the Internet 
III.2. 11.5.21: Policing, Surveillance, and Incarceration
III.3. 25.5.21: Race and Military Technology
III.4. 08.6.21: Data, marginalisation, algorithmic injustice
III.5. 22.6.21: Who gets to imagine the future?