Ruha Benjamin | Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want

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Join us for a lecture by sociologist Ruha Benjamin of Princeton University, as part of the series How Change Comes: Knowledge + Justice.


If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that something almost undetectable can be deadly, and that we can transmit it without even knowing. Doesn’t this imply that small things, seemingly minor actions, decisions, and habits could have exponential effects in the other direction, tipping the scales toward justice: affirming life, fostering well-being, and invigorating society?

In this talk, Ruha Benjamin introduces a microvision of change—a way of looking at the everyday ways people are working to combat unjust systems and build alternatives to the oppressive status quo. Born of a stubborn hopefulness and grounded in social analysis, she offers a pragmatic and poetic approach to fostering a more just and joyful world.

Related Reading

 Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want (Princeton University Press 2022)  

Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code  (Polity 2019)

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

About the Speaker

Ruha Benjamin is a professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and author of People’s Science: Bodies and Rights on the Stem Cell Frontier as well as Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, which examines the relationship between machine bias and systemic racism, analyzing specific cases of “discriminatory design” and offering tools for a socially-conscious approach to tech development. Race After Technology was awarded Brooklyn Public Library’s 2020 Nonfiction Prize.

She has studied the social dimensions of science, technology, and medicine for over 15 years and speaks widely on issues of innovation, equity, health, and justice in the U.S. and globally. Benjamin is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the 2017 President's Award for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton. Her work is published in numerous journals, including Science, Technology, and Human Values; Policy & Society; Ethnicity & Health; and the Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science and reported on in national and international news outlets.

Her newest book, Viral Justice: How We Grow the World We Want, releasing in 2022 was born out of the twin plagues of COVID-19 and police violence—a double crisis that has since created a portal for rethinking all that we’ve taken for granted about the social order and life on this planet.

About the Series

How can distinctive, original scholarship encourage the pursuit of justice in society or the academy? In this series titled How Change Comes: Knowledge + Justice, scholars who have made indelible statements in both areas discuss the conditions of their work and how their political and intellectual investments inform each other.

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