Race Deconstructed: Science and the Making of Difference

December 21, 2021

What is race? The term continues to defy easy explanation. Is it an anthropological category or an accident of geography and climate? Is it merely our superficial appearance, our hair, eyes and skin color? Is it biologically determined or is it a social construct that has been conflated with genetics? Can science offer a meaningful definition of what race means?

This exhibition explores the changing concept of race using examples drawn from across Western science between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries. Race as a concept has been used to promote tribalism, white supremacy, and “otherness,” bolstered by scientific claims that provided a justification for discrimination. Scientific understanding of race has had a profound effect on the making of America, from the transatlantic slave trade to policies on immigration and civil rights. By exploring the medical and scientific theories of race from the past, Race Deconstructed seeks to shed light on how the science of race continues to shape our society even in the present day.

“Race Deconstructed” will be on view in the North Carolina Collection Gallery of the Wilson Special Collections Library through July 14, 2022. It is free and open to the public. It is also available online as a digital exhibition.

Race Deconstructed: Science and the Making of Difference
North Carolina Collection Gallery
Wilson Special Collections Library
On view January 7, 2022 through July 14, 2022
Free and open to the public
(919) 962-3765 or wilsonlibrary@unc.edu