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Dorothy E. Roberts

George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights

Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts, an acclaimed scholar of race, gender and the law, joined the University of Pennsylvania as its 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor with joint appointments in the Departments of Africana Studies and Sociology and the Law School where she holds the inaugural Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander chair. She is also founding director of the Penn Program on Race, Science & Society in the Center for Africana Studies.

Her pathbreaking work in law and public policy focuses on urgent contemporary issues in health, social justice, and bioethics, especially as they impact the lives of women, children and African-Americans. Continue reading…


  • Family Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Bioethics
  • Civil Rights Law
  • Juvenile Justice


[Available Here]

SEX, POWER, AND TABOO: GENDER AND HIV IN THE CARIBBEAN AND BEYOND (with Rhoda Reddock, Dianne Douglas & Sandra Reid, Ian Randle Publishers, 2009)
[Available Here]

FRUG’S WOMEN AND THE LAW (with Libby Adler et al., Foundation Press, 4th ed., 2008; 3rd ed., 2004; 2nd ed., 1998).

KILLING THE BLACK BODY: RACE, REPRODUCTION AND THE MEANING OF LIBERTY (Random House/Pantheon, 1997; Vintage paperback, 1999).

Articles and Book Chapters

Race, Care Work, and the Private Law of Inheritance, 40 LAW & SOC. INQUIRY 511 (2015).

Reconciling Equal Protection Law in the Public and in the Family: The Role of Racial Politics, 162 U. PA. L. REV. ONLINE 283 (2014).

Law, Race, and Biotechnology: Toward a Biopolitical and Transdisciplinary Paradigm, 18 ANN. REV. L. & SOC. SCI. 149 (2013)

Movement Intersectionality: The Case of Race, Gender, Disability, and Genetic Technologies, 10 DUBOIS REV. 313 (2013) (with Sujatha Jesudason).

Prison, Foster Care, and the Systematic Punishment of Black Mothers, 59 UCLA L. REV. 1474 (2012).

Debating the Cause of Health Disparities -- Implications for Bioethics and Racial Equality, 21 CAMBRIDGE Q. HEALTHCARE ETHICS 332 (2012).

Race, Gender, and the Conflation of Biological and Social Issues, 9 DUBOIS REV. 235 (2012) (book review).

The Social Context of Oncofertility, 61 DEPAUL L. REV. 777 (2012).

What’s Wrong with Race-Based Medicine? Genes, Drugs, and Health Disparities, 12 MINN. J. L. SCI. & TECH. 1-21 (2011) (2010 Dienard Memorial Lecture in Law & Medicine).

Collateral Consequences, Genetics Surveillance, and the New Biopolitics of Race, 54 HOW. L.J. 567 (2011).

The Paradox of Silence and Display: Sexual Violation of Enslaved Women and Contemporary Contradictions in Black Female Sexuality, in BEYOND SLAVERY: OVERCOMING ITS RELIGIOUS AND SEXUAL LEGACIES 41 (Bernadette J. Brooten, ed., Praeger Press 2010).
[Available Here]

Race and the New Biocitizen, in WHAT'S THE USE OF RACE 259 (Ian Whitmarsh & David Jones, eds., MIT Press, 2010).
[Available Here]

The Social Immorality of Health in the Gene Age: Race, Disability, and Inequality, in AGAINST HEALTH 61 (Jonathan Metzl & Anna Kirkland, eds., NYU Press, 2010).
[Available Here]

Race, Gender, and Genetic Technologies: A New Reproductive Dystopia?, 34 SIGNS 783 (2009).

Margaret Sanger and the Racial Origins of the Birth Control Movement, in RACIALLY WRITING THE REPUBLIC: RACISTS, RACE REBELS, AND TRANSFORMATIONS OF AMERICAN IDENTITY 196 (Bruce Baum & Duchess Harris, eds., Duke University Press, 2009).
[Available Here]

Sick and Tired: Working Women and Their Health, in THE SHRIVER REPORT: A WOMAN'S NATION CHANGES EVERYTHING 122 (Heather Boushey & Ann O'Leary, eds., The Center for American Progress, 2009). (with Jessica Arons)
[Available Here]

Is Race-Based Medicine Good for Us?: African-American Approaches to Race, Biotechnology, and Equality, 36 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 537 (2008).

Torture and the Biopolitics of Race, 62 U. MIAMI L. REV. 229 (2008).

The Social and Moral Cost of Mass Incarceration in African American Communities, 56 STAN. L. REV. 1271 (2004).

The Genetic Tie, 62 U. CHI. L. REV. 209 (1995).

Punishing Drug Addicts Who Have Babies: Women of Color, Equality, and The Right of Privacy, 104 HARV. L. REV. 1419 (1991).

More publications can be found here.


Penn Law – George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology and the Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights (2012- )

Northwestern – Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law (2002-12); professor (1998-02). Joint appointments: Institute for Policy Research, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences in African American Studies and Sociology

Visiting Faculty/Fellow – Harvard, Stanford, Fordham, Northwestern, Penn Law

Fulbright Fellow, Center for Gender and Development Studies, University of West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago (2002-03)


  • Critical Race Theory
  • Criminal Law
  • Current Controversies in Child Welfare Policy
  • Family Law
  • Race, Biotechnology and Law in the Gene Age

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