Terence Keel

Terence Keel

Terence Keel


Email: tdkeel@ucla.edu

Office: 3323A Life Sciences Building

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Professor, Department of African American Studies and the UCLA Institute for Society & Genetics

Terence Keel is a Professor with a split appointment in the Department of African American Studies, and the UCLA Institute for Society and Genetics. He has written extensively about race, religion, law, medicine and the life sciences. His widely acclaimed first book, Divine Variations (Stanford University Press, 2018), winner of the Iris Book Award, details how religion helped produce scientific racism. He is the co-editor of Critical Approaches to Science and Religion (Columbia University Press, 2023). In 2020 Keel became the Founding Director of the BioCritical Studies Lab—an interdisciplinary space that combines life science research, the best of data science, and the wisdom of the humanities to explain how discrimination, inequality, and resilience are embodied in vulnerable communities and the societies we design. He also serves as the Advisor for Structural Competency and Innovation for the UCLA Simulation Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine.


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


Books & Chapters

  • Perez-Sheldon, Myrna, Ragba, Ahmed, Keel, Terence D., Critical Approaches to Science and Religion (New York, NY: Columbia University Press, February 2023)
  • Keel, Terence D., Divine Variations: How Christian Thought Became Racial Science (Stanford: Stanford University Press, January 2018)
  • 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., “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)

Articles & Reports

  • Keel, Terence D., Walters, Jonah, “Oleoresin Capsicum: A Racial-Political History of a Ubiquitous Chemical Munition” Isis: A Journal of the History of Science Society (December 2023)
  • Shapiro, Nicholas, Keel, Terence D., “Naturalizing Unnatural Death of Los Angeles County Jails, 2009-2019” Medical Anthropology Quarterly (November 2023)
  • Carmen Johnson, Terence Keel, Alexander Li, Anna Robinson-Sweet, Elizabeth Rossi, Grace Sosa, Jonah Walters, (Report) “In-Custody Deaths in Ten Maryland Detention Centers, 2008-2019” August 1, 2023: https://ucla.box.com/s/zdrks72p1bja1n6pow7c4rtplnxlsz0h
  • Alexander Li, Grace Sosa, Terence Keel, (Report) “Los Angeles County Jail Deaths 2009: Evaluating the Demographics of 38 Deaths in Los Angeles County Jails” July 1, 2023:https://www.terencekeel.com/_files/ugd/022b3a_5fe2615b739340e3a6ec8b222c17e060.pdf
  • Shapiro, Nicholas, Keel, Terence D., (Report) “Natural Causes?” 58 Autopsies Prove Otherwise: Evaluating the Autopsies of 58 Deaths in Los Angeles County Jails, 2009-2018” June 1, 2022: https://ucla.app.box.com/s/sv54jmxhmq19kqifpakh4jfu3vnmhbqt/file/974263270262
  • Projit Bihari Mukharji, Myrna Perez Sheldon, Elise K. Burton, Terence Keel, Sebastián Gil-Riaño, Emily Merchant, Wangui Muigai, Ahmed Ragab, and Suman Seth “A Roundtable Discussion on Collecting Demographic Data” Isis June 2020 111:2, 310-353
  • 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

Edited Journals

  • 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

Awards, Honors, & Fellowships

  • National Institute of Health National Library of Medicine ($146,703) 2022-2025
  • Russell Sage Foundation, Foundation Trustee Grant for “Data Driven Study of Autopsies  2022-2024
    Written for Non-Firearm Legal Intervention in Los Angeles, 2000-2020” ($191,991)
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Grant ($125,000) 2022-2023
  • Elected Fellow, International Society for Science and Religion  2021
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Fellowship  2021-2023
  • The Iris Book Award 2021, Center for Religion & the Human
    Indiana University for Divine Variations: How Christian Thought Became Racial Science   2021
  • UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy, Faculty Fellowship  2020-2021
  • The 2018 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title,  2018
    The American Library Association for Divine Variations: How Christian Though Became Racial Science
  • University Honor: Harold J. Plous Award, UC Santa Barbara, 2017
  • UC Consortium for Black Studies in CA, Faculty Research Grant, 2016-2017
  • UC Center for New Racial Studies Faculty Research Working Group Grant: “Critical Theory and Scientific Methods” 2015-2016
  • University of California Faculty Enrichment Grant 2013-2016
  •  National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, Science, Technology and Society Division 2010-2012