Body Politic, edited by F. Vander Valk, Routledge, 2012).
Professor Brigitte Nerlich explores the verbal and, more importantly, the visual framing of public understanding of the neurosciences, which also implies changes in public understanding of the brain, the body, the person and the society he or she lives in. The visual imagery surrounding the neurosciences will be explored as part of a high-level European Conference funded by the European Science Foundation, entitled 'Images and Visualisations: Technology, Truth and Trust', which will take place in Norrkoping, Sweden in September 2012 (co-organised with Dr Andrew Balmer, Manchester and Dr Annamaria Carusi, Oxford).
The growing intellectual authority of the neurosciences for political, social and moral theory represents one of the most visible intellectual phenomena of our epoch, as can be seen in the many of ‘psychological’, ‘social’ and ‘cultural phenomena’ that have now been ‘turned neurobiological’. Though recent studies have addressed the “seductive allure” of neuro-explanations (Skolnick Weisberg et al. 2008) and neuro-imaging technologies (McCabe and Castel 2008), the aim of this multidisciplinary research is to take a wider view of some of the background reasons (political, ideological, moral) for the current intellectual prestige and rise to public prominence of the neurosciences. In particular, it explores the legitimization of the neurosciences as a new source for moral and political discourses (for instance, in a discipline like “neuropolitics”). The neurosciences of morality, and their growing influence (along with evolutionary versions of moral psychology) on contemporary social and political theory, will represent one of the key case studies of this research.
Scale of research
This research is grounded in a two-year Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (FP7-PEOPLE-IEF-2008; research-project “The Emergence of a Biosociety”: Fellow Dr Maurizio Meloni, Scientist in Charge: Professor Brigitte Nerlich, June 2009-May 2011), funded by the Marie Curie Actions/“People” Programme, followed by a three-year Marie Curie Reintegration Grant (FP7-PEOPLE-2010-RG; research-project "The Seductive Power of the Neurosciences: An Intellectual Genealogy”, Researcher: Dr Maurizio Meloni, June 2011 –May 2014), with partial funding by the same EU programme. It is linked to previous research relating to neurosciences and society carried out by Professor Paul Martin (now at the University of Sheffield) [ESRC seminar series on Neuroscience, Identity and Society (2005 – 2007)] and to the ESF conference mentioned above.
A partial financial contribution is given by the EU (Marie Curie European Reintegration Grant, FP7-PEOPLE-2010-RG: June 2011 – May 2014, total Euros 45,000) for the project on "The Seductive Power of the Neurosciences”, of which the research on the neurosciences of morality is an important case study.