Terence Keel

Associate Professor

Life Sciences Building 3323A

B.A. Xavier University of Louisiana
M.T.S. Harvard Divinity School
Ph.D. Harvard University

Terence Keel is an Associate Professor in the Institute for Society and Genetics. He also holds a joint appointment in the Department of African American Studies. Keel is a historian of science, scholar of religion, and critical race theorist who earned his PhD from Harvard University. He has written widely about the history of racism and its connections to science, religion, politics, and modern life. Keel is interested in the social and cultural history that shapes the intellectual horizon of biological and medical research. His first book Divine Variations (Stanford University Press, 2018) documents the legacy shared between Christian thought and modern scientific conceptions of race in Europe and North America. Keel demonstrates that Christian ideas about creation, ancestry, and universalism helped form the basis of modern scientific accounts of human diversity—despite the ostensible shift of the life sciences towards naturalism, objectivity and value neutrality.

Keel has recently written about the need to incorporate Critical Race Theory and research in the life sciences to unsettle the fixation on deep continental ancestry to explain variation in human health and behavioral outcomes. Building on this work he is currently interested in the conceptual obstacles scientists (and the public at large) face when imagining how legacies of socio-political discrimination and privilege are embodied and expressed biologically.

Keel previously taught at UC Santa Barbara where he served as Vice Chair to the Department of History and was the first Black Studies Professor to receive the Harold J. Plous Award—the highest honor given to a junior faculty member in recognition for exceptional scholarship and teaching. He is an affiliate of the newly formed Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice & Health under the directorship of Dr. Chandra Ford of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Keel is also a senior advisor to the Goldin Institute, a Chicago based non-profit organization that advocates globally for grassroots leadership, conflict resolution, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability.


Keel, Terence D., “Blumenbach’s Racial Science in the Light of Christian Supersessionism” in, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach: Race and Natural History, 1750-1850 ed. Nicolaas Rupke and Gerhard Lauer (NY: Routledge, 2018), 123-141

Keel, Terence D., Divine Variations: How Christian Thought Became Racial Science (Stanford: Stanford University Press, January 2018)

Keel, Terence D., “Human-Neanderthal Hybrids and the Frontier of Critical Race Studies” in, Red and Yellow, Black and Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies ed. Paul Spickard and Rudy Guevarra (NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2017), 201-218


Keel, Terence D., “The Religious Preconditions for the Race Concept in Modern Science”, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Vol. 54, No. 1 (March 2019): 225-229.

Keel, Terence D., “Response to My Critics: The Life of Christian Racial Forms in Modern Science”, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Vol. 54, No. 1 (March 2019): 261-279.

Keel, Terence D., “Race on both Sides of the Razor”, Kalfou “Symposium Issue on Race and Science”, Spring 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 1, 7-17

Keel, Terence D., “Concluding Remarks: Social Justice Requires BioCritical Inquiry” Kalfou “Symposium Issue on Race and Science”, Spring 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 1, 68-75

Keel, Terence D., Obasogie, Osagie, and Bridges, Khiara “Introduction: Critical Race Theory and the Life Sciences” (Symposium Issue) American Journal of Law and Medicine, Fall 2017 Vol. 43, Issue 2 & 3

Keel, Terence D., “(Review): Michael Yudell. Race Unmasked: Biology and Race in the Twentieth Century” New York City, New York, Columbia University Press, 2014. xvi, 304 pp. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 2016, 71 (1): 107-109

Keel, Terence D., “Charles V. Roman, Racial Medicine, and the Specter of Polygenism in Progressive Era Public Health Research,” Social History of Medicine, May 2015, 28 (4): 742-766

Keel, Terence D., “Religion, Polygenism, and the Early Science of Human Origins” History of the Human Sciences, Vol. 26, Issue 2, April 2013: 3-32

Keel, Terence D., “Neanderthal Genes, Religion and the Search for the Unique Identity of Modern Humans” Gene Watch Vol. 23, Issue 3, May-June 2010

Keel, Terence D., “Religion, Race, and the Neanderthal Genome” The Immanent Frame, July 22, 2010


Keel, Terence D., Obasogie, Osagie, Bridges, Khiara (eds.) American Journal of Law and Medicine (Symposium Issue) Fall 2017, Vol. 43, Issue 2 & 3

Keel, Terence D., Lipsitz, George (eds.) Kalfou “Symposium Issue on Race and Science”, Spring 2018, Vol. 5, Issue 1