Books

The author and editor of several works, Alondra Nelson is a leading voice on the social implications of science and technology. Praised by writer Isabel Wilkerson as "one of this generation's most gifted scholars," her writing explores how science and its applications shape our world and how we, in turn, engage with and transform developments in science, technology, and medicine. Her first book, Body and Soul, was hailed as "tremendously important,” “a major achievement,” and “a revelation.” Her latest book, The Social Life of DNA, has been acclaimed as a "meticulously detailed," "illuminating," and "brilliant work."

 

  • The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome

    In The Social Life of DNA, Alondra Nelson takes us on an unprecedented journey into how the double helix has wound its way into the heart of the most urgent contemporary social issues around race. Artfully weaving together interactions with ​root-seekers alongside illuminating historical details and revealing personal narrative, she shows that genetic genealogy is a new tool for addressing old and enduring issues, including grappling with the unfinished business of slavery, establishing ties with African ancestral homelands, and making legal claims for slavery reparations

  • Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination

    Between its founding in 1966 and its formal end in 1980, the Black Panther Party blazed a distinctive trail in American political culture. The Black Panthers are most often remembered for their revolutionary rhetoric and militant action. In this award-winning book, Alondra Nelson deftly recovers an indispensable but lesser-known aspect of the organization’s broader struggle for social justice: health care.

  • Genetics and the Unsettled Past: The Collision of DNA, Race, and History

    Our genetic markers have come to be regarded as portals to the past. Analysis of these markers is increasingly used to tell the story of human migration; to investigate and judge issues of social membership and kinship; to rewrite history and collective memory; to right past wrongs and to arbitrate legal claims and human rights controversies; and to open new thinking about health and well-being. Genetics and the Unsettled Past considers the alignment of genetic science with commercial genealogy, with legal and forensic developments, and with pharmaceutical innovation to examine how these trends lend renewed authority to biological understandings of race and history.

  • Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life

    The cultural impact of new information and communication technologies has been a constant topic of debate, but questions of race and ethnicity remain a critical absence. Incorporating a broader definition of technology and technological practices--to include not only those technologies thought to create "revolutions" (computer hardware and software) but also cars, cellular phones, and other everyday technologies—Technicolor reflects the larger history of technology use by people of color.

  • Afrofuturism

    Curated and edited by Alondra Nelson, this special issue of Social Text addresses the intersection between African diasporic culture and technology through literature, poetry, science fiction and speculative fiction, music, visual art, and the Internet and maintains that racial identity fundamentally influences technocultural practices. The collection includes a reflection on the ideologies of race created by cultural critics in their analyses of change wrought by the information age; an interview with Nalo Hopkinson, the award-winning novelist, who fuses futuristic thinking with Caribbean traditions; an essay on how contemporary R&B music presents African American reflections on the technologies of everyday life; and an article examining early attempts to carve out African American niches in cyberspace.