Racial Populations and Epidemiological Interventions

Event details


20 April 2023




Brendan Larvor

Enquire Add to Calendar https://www.herts.ac.uk/about-us/news-and-events/events/2023/racial-populations-and-epidemiological-interventions Racial Populations and Epidemiological Interventions 2023-04-20 18:00 2023-04-20-19:30 36 Uni of Herts b.p.larvor@herts.ac.uk YYYY MM DD 18:00

Speaker: Dr Michael Diamond-Hunter (LSE)

Racial Populations and Epidemiological Interventions

In this paper, I highlight an issue for epidemiology and the attempt to assess and mitigate population-level health disparities. Populations are taken as the bearers of health-related properties, and are routinely stratified by race or ethnicity. Contemporary use of these categories is slightly worrisome, given that there seems to be no definition of “race” or “ethnicity” that is standard across the discipline. Couple this with one of a recent number of published articles asking either for clarification or outright elimination of the term “race” from biomedical research (Yudell et al. 2016) and it appears that the issues regarding race have been fully illuminated. However, there has been one aspect of this debate that is of special importance to philosophers of medicine, epidemiologists, public health advocates, and biomedical researchers. If we take populations to be the bearers of health-related properties, and we take it that there are racial populations of human beings, then (A) how, exactly, can we say anything true about populations in the deep past where the racial categories were radically different or did not exist; and (B) how are we to assess population-level health disparities for communities that are future-based, but currently do not exist (i.e. “MENA”)?

The structure of my paper is the following: First, I will survey some of the epidemiological literature to highlight ways in which race is treated and defined. Secondly, I will review recent publications that have argued for clarifying or outright removal of the term race from biomedical research. Third, I will introduce two important problems for epidemiological research that have not been previously discussed: the inability to deal with historical racial populations and the looming prospect of dealing with new racial populations. Finally, I will offer a solution to both of the issues at hand, and will conclude with a sketch of how my proposed solution could be deployed for empirical research.


W128 (de Havilland Campus)