International Conference: Mind Reading as Cultural Practice

AHP readers may be interested in a call for paper for a conference on “Mind Reading as Cultural Practice” to be held at the Institute for Cultural Theory and History, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, 22-23 March 2018. Full details below.

Mind Reading as Cultural Practice
International Conference to be held at the Institute for Cultural Theory and History, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany, 22-23 March 2018

Convenors: Laurens Schlicht and Christian Fassung (Humboldt University Berlin, Germany), Simone Natale (Loughborough University, UK)

Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century, a wide range of technologies and techniques have been developed to generate knowledge about what people feel, think, wish, or plan. To give just a few examples, employ physiological evidence to establish if a subject is telling the truth or if s/he is lying; subfields of psychology such as characterology are designed to identify and recognize certain types; and recently computing technologies employ algorithm and facial recognition software to make inferences about feelings and mental states.

Yet, relatively few attempts have been made to address such diverse practices in conjunction and connection with each other. This conference aims to fill this gap. Employing the concept of mind reading in a broad sense as designating any technique that helps to create knowledge about people’s feelings and states of mind, it aims to stimulate a critical debate about mind reading techniques as forms of knowledge and in regard to their political, social, and cultural dimension.

The conference’s objective is to promote a cross-disciplinary debate, taking into account also areas of knowledge that are often excluded from academic discourse, such as the occult practices of parapsychology or the practices of local police officers and marketing operatives. In this regard, speakers are encouraged to engage with a set of questions connected to the historical, epistemic and cultural dimensions of mind reading. Potential topics include but are not limited to:

– The design, production and use of technologies of mind reading. How were these technologies developed, and how did they inform the development of mind reading practices? Which functions did they have in terms of knowledge production and dissemination, and to what extent were they related to the development of discourses about technology, objectivity, subjectivity, and science?

– A perspective from historical epistemology: how are the objects of research on mind reading produced and shaped? What kinds of epistemic techniques are employed to generate knowledge about people’s state of mind, feelings, or about the veracity of their statements?

– The construction of subjectivity based on mind reading techniques: in certain specific contexts, modes of subjectivity such as the “psychopath” or the “neurasthenic” provided an important conceptual framework both for science, the legal system, and for people’s self-conception. How did the practices under consideration help to create, consolidate, or change modes of subjectivity?

– The cultural and political dimensions of mind reading: how did such technologies and practices contribute to re-shape political regimes? Which political and cultural roles did mind reading techniques play? How far and to what extent did mind reading have a transformative impact in the political arena and on broad economic and social phenomena?

Confirmed speakers include Christian Bachhiesl, Melissa Littlefield, Roger Luckhurst, Annette Mülberger, and Michael Pettit.

We welcome proposals for papers from all disciplines connected to the subject areas mentioned above. Those who wish to submit a paper should send an abstract of no more than 300 words and a short CV or bio to the following address: laurens.schlicht@hu-berlin.de

Deadline: October 1st, 2017

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About Jacy Young

Jacy Young recently completed a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Surrey in the UK. She earned her doctorate in the History and Theory of Psychology at York University in 2014.

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