The 2019 Bishop Lecture in Bioethics was presented by Ruha Benjamin, PhD. Dr. Benjamin presented a talk entitled, “Black Afterlives Matter: Reimagining Bioethics for an Ailing Body Politic." The Bishop Lecture serves as the keynote address during the CBSSM Research Colloquium.
Ruha’s work investigates the social dimensions of science and technology with a focus on the relationship between innovation and inequity, health and justice, knowledge and power.
She is the author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press 2013); Race After Technology (Polity 2019); and editor of Captivating Technology: Reimagining Race, Carceral Technoscience, and Liberatory Imagination in Everyday Life (Duke University Press 2019) among numerous other publications.
Ruha is also the recipient of fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, and Institute for Advanced Study among others, and in 2017 she received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton.
For more info, please visit ruhabenjamin.com
Abstract: In this talk, I expand the frame of health and illness and broaden the terrain of bioethics, moving beyond a focus on individual bodies to the social patterns and politics that produce premature death. By engaging the idiom of “afterlife” in relation to Black existence in the United States, this talk grapples with the multiple ways in which life after death and debt are stratified. Especially when it comes to Black maternal health -- so often the site of trauma and neglect – we must consider a full range of life-affirming practices that implicate the body politic writ large. In this way, I also want to shift from diagnosis to remedy. Yes, subordination, subjugation, subaltern, literally “under the earth,” racialized populations are buried people. But there is a lot happening underground. Not only coffins, but seeds, roots and rhizomes. And maybe even tunnels and other lines of flight to new worlds, where alternative forms of kinship and collective wellbeing have room to grow. Will you imagine with me?