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Photo of Shai Mulinari. Private photo.

Shai Mulinari

Associate Professor | Senior Lecturer

Photo of Shai Mulinari. Private photo.

“Black race”, “Schwarze Hautfarbe”, “Origine africaine”, or “Etnia nera”? The absent presence of race in European pharmaceutical regulation


  • Shai Mulinari
  • Anna Bredström

Summary, in English

Current scholarship on race in Europe has described race as an “absent presence”. However, little is known about the dynamics of the absentness and presentness of race, including how various social processes operating at distinct levels (e.g., supranational and national) influence the uses of race and ethnicity concepts. We begin addressing this gap by examining racialised pharmaceutical regulation in the EU and its operationalisation in European countries. We analysed patterns of English-language uses of race and ethnicity terms at the EU level for all new drugs approved in 2014–2018, and systematically compared official translations into 24 languages . We found that “race” was promoted in plain sight and often retained when translated, albeit with much inconsistency across languages, creating peculiar patterns of presentness and absentness of race. Finnish, French, Swedish, and German stood out, as “race” was often translated into ethnicity terms, but even in those languages, “race” lingered despite claims that these countries vehemently opposed “race”. Our findings should inform scholarly and political debates about race, ethnicity and medicine in Europe that tend to assume, incorrectly, an anti-racialist consensus. There are also policy implications, because prescribers may interpret regulator-approved information about race and ethnicity differently because of inconsistent translations.


  • Sociology

Publishing year






Document type

Journal article


Palgrave Macmillan


  • International Migration and Ethnic Relations
  • Pharmaceutical Sciences




  • A New Biologism? How Medical Research, Policy and Clinical Practice Approach Ethnic Differences in Health


  • ISSN: 1745-8552