As neuroscientific models of the brain, mind and body become increasingly visible across a number of academic disciplines, they pose, for the interpretative social scientist or humanities scholar, the difficult questions: What kind of response – if any – do those models demand? And how do those models put pressure on other ways of approaching, investigating, and analysing psyche and soma? My own response to those questions operates at the intersection of the social sciences and the humanities, and has involved extensive collaboration with life scientists. I have been interested in two overarching questions: (i) How do current neuroscientific models take up, work with and/or occlude other models that might be found in the archives of the psy disciplines that extend back across the last century or so? (ii) Does the current neuroscientific turn offer openings for new ways of tracing and accounting for the enmeshment of the biological, the psychological and the social? In this talk, I address these questions by presenting three case studies from my research: historical-geographical research on early (late 1950s/early 1960s) psychopharmacological experiments on clinical anxiety and panic; an on-going interdisciplinary investigation of mind wandering that involves brings together humanities scholars, social scientists and laboratory scientists; and collaborative investigations of recent sub-fields within the cognitive neurosciences (including neuropsychoanlaysis and resting state fMRI). In the process, I consider interdisciplinarity as both an historically variable practice and an epistemic object.
Felicity Callard is Professor of Social Science for Medical Humanities at Durham University (Department of Geography and Centre for Medical Humanities). Her research focuses on the intertwinements of psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychology and the neurosciences – from the late nineteenth century to the present. For the last two years, she has been the Director of Hubbub (the first interdisciplinary residency of The Hub at Wellcome Collection, London) leading a team of social scientists, life scientists, humanities scholars and artists in investigations of rest and its opposites. She is Editor-in-Chief of the journal History of the Human Sciences.
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.