The 86th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2017)

How social justice perspectives expose hidden exclusions in science


1Biological Sciences, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, 2Anthropology, University of Illinois

April 21, 2017 4:45, Riverview 1 Add to calendar

Science is defined as the systematic study of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. Despite the insistence that science is an objective pursuit – and by extension, so are individual scientists – science, like other human endeavors demonstrates considerable disparity and marginalization of opportunity. In academic scenarios, differential parity and enfranchisement is often assigned according to socioeconomic status, professional status, professional affiliation, and among international research partnerships – national residency. When researchers from more privileged institutions or nations embark on research projects in developing nations or with disenfranchised communities, there is risk of them unintentionally exploiting these power differentials. This can lead to excluding individuals and erasing input of under-represented groups from the scientific process. Our project interviews American trained scientists who study in developing nations. Our objective is to understand how implicit bias and conservative science funding influence project design and execution, as well as expenditure, training, and support decisions in service of data collection. We aim to demonstrate how social justice perspectives can expose unrealized moments of exclusion in science. By cultivating social justice activist mindset in science, we believe it improves the quality of our work and enriches the fields of science overall. It also can drive broadening participation in the sciences and invigorate intellectual promotion and economic stability of disenfranchised communities and developing nations.