Today I had the pleasure of talking to the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences (PEALS) research centre at Newcastle University about Mix & Match. The presentation was an opportunity for me to share some of the arguments in a forthcoming paper exploring how ethics and racial positioning are marshalled to encourage donor recruitment. The abstract for the presentation is below.
“It’s harder for the likes of us”: Racially minoritised stem cell donation as ethico-racial imperative
How can we understand appeals to participate in a biomedical project (e.g., vaccine uptake or clinical trial participation) that are based both on invoking shared ethnic identity, and on framing engagement as the clear moral course of action? Stem cell donor recruitment, which often focuses on engaging racially minoritised communities, provides useful insight into this question. In this talk, I explore the creative ‘doing’ of relatedness between people at the scale of race as well as family that coalesces into powerful appeals to participate. Through analysis of ethnographic, documentary and social media data, the paper argues that this work relies at least partly on framing donation as a duty of being part of a racialised community, which I describe here as an ethico-racial imperative, in which both race and responsibility become intertwined to compel participation in the biomedical project of donor registration.
The audience was mainly social sciences and humanities researchers, so we spent time afterwards talking about the methodological and political challenges of talking about ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ in genetic/health contexts. Thanks to Janice McLaughlin for organising, Simon Woods for chairing, and to Mwenza Blell, Geth Rees and Mavis Machirori for asking such generous and insightful questions of me.
The paper upon which this presentation was based should soon be available to be read via the journal Biosocieties, and I will ensure a link to the open access version is made available on this website shortly.