Call for Papers: Workshop “Mere labels, racial concepts, or scientific methods? The politics, epistemologies and ethics of naming populations in the life sciences and beyond” on 30th/31st March 2023 in Freiburg, deadline January 6th 2023

Call for Workshop Papers & Articles
Mere labels, racial concepts, or scientific methods? The politics, epistemologies and ethics of naming populations in the life sciences and beyond

The life sciences often think of human biological diversity in terms of differences and similarities between populations rather than between individuals. Accordingly, humans are divided into ancestral collectives whose membership is too a large extent unalterable and heritable. This transformation of individuals into populations has far reaching implications. Various studies have argued that positing such populations is hardly distinguishable from assuming the (pre-)existence of human races. Especially studies in medical, forensic and populations genetics have caused much debate about how far “genetic ancestry” falls back on racial concepts and how these involve and foster racism (e.g. Burmeister 2021; Fuentes, Bolnick & Watkins, 2019; Gannett 2014; Lewis et al. 2022, Lipphardt 2019; May 2018; M’charek 2022; Novembre 2022). At our workshop we would like to take this discussion further and discuss the role the naming of population plays before, during, and after the research process.

We welcome contributions that outline the scientific concerns, negotiations and decisions the naming of populations is subject to, as well as the societal repercussion it has. We encourage the submission of papers that address the interrelated issues of politics, epistemologies and ethics in the use of population labels in life sciences and other disciplines broadly related to the questions and themes highlighted above. Applicants can submit abstracts (300 words) for papers that deal with one or all three aspects (politics, epistemologies, ethics) within the focus of this call. Deadline for abstracts is 6 January 2023.

We aim for the publication of the papers in an edited STS volume. Therefore, successful applicants should prepare to provide a short paper (3000 words) for discussion by 10th March 2023. Papers will be shared among all participants before the workshop taking place at the University of Freiburg (Germany) on 30th/31st March 2023.


  • Deadline for abstracts: 6 January 2023
  • Notification of acceptation/rejection: 15 January 2023
  • Deadline for short papers: 10 March 2023
  • Workshop in Freiburg: 30/31 March 2023
  • Deadline for full papers: July 2023
  • Review of full paper: ca. September 2023
  • Revised manuscript: ca. December 2023
  • Publication: ca. February 2024

The workshop is jointly organized by the Freiburg Network on Ethical, Legal and Social Aspects of Science and Technology (FELSA) and the SoSciBio (Human Diversity in the Life Sciences: Social and Scientific Effects of Biological Differentiations) research group.

Please send your abstracts to
Mihai Surdu
Nils Ellebrecht
Veronika Lipphardt

More information can be found here.