The graduate students of Yale University’s Program in History of Science and Medicine are excited to host “Critical Histories and Activist Futures: Science, Medicine and Racial Violence” on February 24 and 25, 2017. Last year, we were inspired by the conversations and actions taking place across college and university campuses, especially the activism led by Yale undergraduates in the NextYale movement, on issues of racial violence and social justice. We gathered to think about how we could contribute to these conversations as historians of science and medicine. One of the results is this conference.
We want to unpack the deep entanglements of science, medicine and racial violence. As our colleague Viet N. Trinh has written, these are entanglements that are often forgotten or overlooked even by twenty-first century medical and scientific practitioners. Yet “Critical Histories, Activist Futures” will not only examine these historical entanglements, but interrogate continuing injustices in scientific research, health practices, and academic institutions. The conference will feature presentations by historians, health professionals, scientists and activists, and opportunities for discussion and response. Our goal is to turn these interrogations into actions: sharing ideas, creating dialogue and generating strategies for using scholarship as activism. It is our hope that “Critical Histories, Activist Futures” will not just be a forum for looking at past injustices, but will provide a blueprint for confronting present and future ones.