Prof Ruha Benjamin

Princeton University

Assistant Professor, Center for African American Studies

Faculty Associate, The Program in the History of Science

Twitter: @ruha9

Homepage and CV:


Professor Benjamin specializes in the interdisciplinary study of science, medicine, and biotechnology; race-ethnicity and gender; health and biopolitics; and the sociology of knowledge. She is the author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press 2013), which examines the tension between innovation and equity in the context of state investment in stem cell research and against the backdrop of medical experimentation on subordinate social groups. Her current project, Provincializing Science: Mapping and Marketing ‘Difference’ After the Genome, explores the uptake of genomics in South Africa, India, and the United States with a focus on how and why racial-ethnic and caste categories are incorporated in research on health disparities. Taken together, this body of work addresses debates about how science shapes the social world and how the public can and should engage science.


Benjamin received her BA in sociology and anthropology from Spelman College, MA and PhD in sociology from UC Berkeley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA’s Institute for Society and Genetics. Prior to joining Princeton University, she was on the faculty of Boston University and a visiting fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Science, Technology, and Society program. She has been awarded fellowships and grants from the American Council of Learned Societies, National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine among others. 



Selected Publications:

§  “Racial Destiny or Dexterity? The Global Circulation of Genomics as an Empowerment Idiom,” in Reimagining Biomedicalization, Pharmaceuticals, and Genetics: Old Critiques and New Engagements, edited by Susan E. Bell and Anne Figert (Routledge 2015).


§  Race for Cures: Rethinking the Racial Logics of ‘Trust’ in Biomedicine.” Sociology Compass (2014).


§  People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier (Stanford University Press 2013).


  • “Organized Ambivalence: When Stem Cell Research & Sickle Cell Disease Converge.” Ethnicity & Health (2011), reprinted in Genetics and Global Public Health: Sickle Cell and Thalassaemia, edited by Simon Dyson and Karl Atkin (Routledge 2012).

A Lab of Their Own: Genomic Sovereignty as Postcolonial Science Policy” Policy & Society (2009).