chapter  2
20 Pages

Utopian Destinies: Anti-biological Textualities

In the spring of 2014, former New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade’s new book, A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History (2014) caused a wave of controversy when it claimed that trends in behaviour and major events such as the industrial revolution might be explained as a result of human evolution, therefore suggestive of genetic differences between different racial groups. Wade’s work in this respect seemed to be questioning the commonly held perspective that race is a cultural construct, a discourse that in the contemporary period is mediated no longer by biology, but rather by notions of cultural difference (Malik 1996: 8), and is upheld not by science but by the ways in which groups ‘dene themselves by their history and identity’ (217). By the summer, a number of scientists cited in Wade’s book had signed a letter to the New York Times Book Review claiming their work had been misrepresented (Balter 2014).