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Racism and Public Health, École Polytechnique & Columbia University lecture

Racism and Public Health, lecture organized by École Polytechnique and Columbia University on November, 14th at Columbia Global Center, Reid Hall, Paris, is the second lecture of Science, Technology, and Society, Discussion Series launched in New York in September.

A new interdisciplinary series featuring scholars from École Polytechnique and Columbia University takes place alternately in New York City and Paris. The second lecture, discussion, and reception will be held on November 14th, 2016 (Columbia Global Centers, Reid Hall, Paris) with further events throughout the year.

Keynote speaker

Samuel Kelton Roberts, Professor of History and of Sociomedical Sciences, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

Dr. Samuel Kelton Roberts, Jr., is Director of Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), Associate Professor of History (School of Arts & Sciences) and Associate Professor of Sociomedical Sciences (Mailman School of Public Health). He writes, teaches, and lectures widely on African-American history, medical and public health history, urban history, issues of policing and criminal justice, and the history of social movements. His book, Infectious Fear: Politics, Disease, and the Health Effects of Segregation (UNC Press, 2009), demonstrates the historical and continuing links between legal and de facto segregation and poor health outcomes. In 2013-14, Dr. Roberts served as the Policy Director of Columbia University’s Justice Initiative, where he coordinated the efforts of several partners to bring attention to the issue of aging and the growing incarcerated elderly population. This work led to the publication of the widely-read landmark report, Aging in Prison Reducing Elder Incarceration and Promoting Public Safety (New York: Columbia University Center for Justice. November 2015).

Dr. Roberts currently is researching a book project on the history of drug addiction policy and politics from the 1950s to the present, a period which encompasses the various heroin epidemics between the 1950s and the 1980s, therapeutic communities, radical recovery movements, methadone maintenance treatment, and harm reduction approaches.

An Historiographical note on People of Color, Drug Politics and Research, & a Harm Reduction Perspective

"In this paper I offer an historiographical and methodological note about racialization and ethnic politics in United States drug history since the 1870s. Historical research on the discursive workings of racialization in drug research and political debate makes clear the role of “race” in describing specific drugs as more dangerous than others. These analyses often have the purpose of explaining a set of public policies which putatively targeted undesired drug use but in actuality had the effect of (and often were designed to) limit the social, economic, and geographic mobility of certain stigmatized groups."


  • Soraya Boudia,  Professor of Sociology, Center for Research in Medicine, Science, Health, Mental health, and Society, Université Paris-Descartes
  • Renaud Crespin, Research associate Professor in Political Science at CNRS, Center for the Sociology of Organizations / Sciences-Po
  • Bruno Falissard, Professor of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine - Université Paris-Sud,  Member of the National Academy of Medicine

Watch Science, Technology, and the Logics of Preventive War, lecture organized by École Polytechnique and Columbia University on September, 13th at La Maison Française, located on the campus of Columbia University, the Opening lecture of Science, Technology, and Society, Discussion Series. Learn more about the opening lecture.