Social Sciences and History, University of Sydney (2015)

The aim of this “approach” based seminar is to generate critical reflection on how the practice of historical research can be enriched by attending to the social sciences as both objects of study and methodological resources. The readings cover historical studies of how the social sciences have been shaped by their cultural context and of how social scientists have fashioned professional identities. We will also explore the complexities and analytic insights that arise when historians engage in anthropological research and, conversely, at how anthropologists have grappled with the historical legacies of colonialism and racism. Broadly speaking then, we will explore how the social sciences compliment and perturb the project of detached historical inquiry and the insights that scholarship at the interface of social science and history might offer to our own research projects.


HIS202 Gender, Race, and Science, University of Toronto (2014, 2013)

This course critically explores the historical emergence and ongoing transformation of scientific ideas about ‘race’ and ‘sex’ in the modern era. Our examination of these categories concentrates on scientific debates in the Anglo-American world from the 18th century to the present with some consideration of continental Europe and colonial contexts. Our guiding questions include: How did scientists, doctors, naturalists, and other experts create the concepts of ‘race’ and ‘sex’? How did ‘race’ and ‘sex’ come to be the primary categories through which natural human difference has been defined in the modern West? In what ways have scientific conceptions of ‘race’ and ‘sex’ been put to use for political projects and how have they been contested as natural categories? With these questions in mind, this course challenges us to think critically about how scientific understandings of ‘race’ and ‘sex’ circulate in society and to understand how they came to be contested and re-defined as cultural and historical artefacts as opposed to biological essences.


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