The Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science is hosting a “neuro-reality check” workshop to be held in Berlin in December. Their purpose is to scrutinize “the ‘neuro-turn’ in the humanities and natural sciences.” But they also aim to look beyond the usual pro and con.
Our ambition is to take problematisations of the neurosciences to another level. While numerous new scholarly projects in the social sciences and humanities have recently emerged to analyze the growth of ‘neuromania’, our workshop aims to bring together scholars from a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds in order to step back a little, and to probe deeper into the alleged effects and actual causes of the ongoing neurohype. This will include exploring the extent to which discourses engendering neuroscience in fact do match neuroscience’s real world (social) effects; but it will also include interrogating the anatomy of the neuro-discourses themselves, and to locate the immense attractions and functions of the ‘neuro’ in the broader scheme of — intellectual and political — things: the promise and attractions of ‘interdisciplinarity’ within contemporary humanities; the surge of underlabouring specialities such as neuroethics; or the rise and growing acceptance, within recent years, of a new (neuro) ‘biologism’ in a great many academic disciplines and popular culture at large, as well as the opposition this engenders.
For successful applicants, MPI will cover the cost of travel and accommodation in Berlin.
Abstracts of up to 300 words should include your name, institutional affiliation, and email address. These should be submitted by email to Suparna Choudhury (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Max Stadler (email@example.com). The deadline for abstract submission is 15 February 2011.
In framing what they hope to see in the contributions to their workshop, they ask a number of questions:
Our aim… is to encourage a more de-centred kind of analysis than the one typically pursued: Why, for instance, is it that art historians or political theorists choose to eschew ‘theory’ in favour of neuroscientific wisdom? Which ideological sea-changes reside behind the frequently proclaimed ‘crisis’ in the humanities, and how do they resonate with the turn to the ‘neuro’? What are the interests and economic conditions driving the mushrooming of interdisciplinary neuro-X academic subfields in the contemporary academic landscape? Or again, is it really – empirically – the case that we are on the verge on of a ‘neuro-revolution’, our life-worlds, language and habits already being subtly transformed?
Those interested in reading further are directed toward:
- Gergen, K. J. (2010). The acculturated brain. Theory & Psychology, 20, 795-816. doi:10.1177/0959354310370906
- Klein, E. (in press). Is there a need for clinical neuroskepticism? Neuroethics. doi:10.1007/s12152-010-9089-x
- Vidal, F. (2009). Brainhood, anthropological figure of modernity. History of the Human Sciences, 22, 5-36. doi:10.1177/0952695108099133