Alondra Nelson is associate professor of sociology and gender studies
at Columbia University. An interdisciplinary social scientist, she writes about the intersections of science, technology, medicine and inequality. These themes are taken up in her most recent book, Body and Soul:
The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, winner of four professional prizes, including the Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award from the Race, Class and Gender section of the American Sociological Association.
She is also an editor of Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race,and History, Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life, and “Afrofuturism,” a special issue of Social Text.
Her next book, The Social Life of DNA: Race and Reconciliation after the Genome, is forthcoming from Beacon Press. Drawing on interviews and fieldwork, this book traces how claims about heritage and ancestry are marshaled together with genetic analysis in a range of social ventures, including kin-keeping, reparations politics, citizenship projects, and public commemoration.
Alondra’s essays, reviews and commentary have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Science, Scientific American, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dissent and the Guardian, among others venues. Her publications also include articles on race and digital culture; “scientism” in black power politics; the use of racial categories in medicine; and the social implications of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, genetic genealogy and social media.
The Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have supported her research. From 2006-2007, she was an external fellow at the W.E.B Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at the International Center for Advanced Study at New York University. An internationally recognized scholar, she has also been a visiting fellow at BIOS: Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society at the London School of Economics; the Bavarian-American Academy in Munich; and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. Prior to joining Columbia, Nelson was on the faculty of Yale University, where she received the Poorvu Family Award for teaching excellence.
Nelson received her B.A. in Anthropology (magna cum laude), from the University of California, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University in 2003.
A transplanted Californian, she lives in New York City.