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"Gauging Gender"

Anne Dalke's picture

In light of our recent conversations about "brain organization," I highly recommend a piece by Stephen Asma, "Gauging Gender," just published in today's Chronicle Review, which reports

* that humanities scholars are "slowly getting over biophobia"

* that biology has become dialectical: While humanists weren't looking, biology (genetics, embryology, evolution, neuroscience, etc.) left behind many of its deterministic pretensions and embraced the indeterministic developmental logic of epigenetics—the complex interface of nurture and nature. Biology now recognizes the immense domain of external triggers and influences (from intrauterine environment to social structures) that shape phenotypic expression of genetic possibilities.

* and recommends that we all read Evelyn Fox Keller's 2010 book, The Mirage of a Space Between Nature and Nurture, "which emphasizes the plastic relationship between genes and environment, and tries to counteract our tendency to privilege one cause over another by emphasizing 'developmental pathways' .... Which traits are malleable, and to what degree? The answers will come from a prudent marriage of biocultural analysis, because developmental pathways don't recognize academic divisions."