Cultura Obscura: Race, Power, and “Culture Talk” in the Health Sciences

  title={Cultura Obscura: Race, Power, and “Culture Talk” in the Health Sciences},
  author={Ruha Benjamin},
  journal={American Journal of Law \& Medicine},
  pages={225 - 238}
  • Ruha Benjamin
  • Published 2017
  • Sociology, Medicine
  • American Journal of Law & Medicine
"The price of culture is a Lie." 1 This Article advances a critical race approach to the health sciences by examining "culture talk" as a discursive repertoire that attributes distinct beliefs, behaviors, and dispositions to ethno-racialized groups. Culture talk entails a twofold process of obfuscation - concealing the social reality of the people it describes and hiding the positionality of those who employ cultural generalizations. After tracing how culture talk circulates and reproduces racist narratives in and beyond the health sciences, I examine how cultural competency training in medical schools and diversity initiatives in stem cell research use the idiom of culture to manage and manufacture group differences. [...] Key Method From culturing cells in the lab to enculturing people in the clinic, I apply the concept of coproduction to argue that culture talk is a precondition and product of scientific knowledge construction.Expand
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