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Institute of Advanced Study

Additional Thematic Activities

Brains in the Making: emerging models, methods, and modes of working  

Brains in the Making is a workshop that emerges from existing synergies between three, large interdisciplinary projects led by Durham University: Hearing the Voice (HtV), the inaugural residency at The Hub at Wellcome Collection, and Cognitive Futures in the Humanities (CFiH). These projects involve academics from all three faculties whose research engages with the brain sciences, and who are committed to extending Durham’s existing strengths in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research. 

The workshop will bring together external speakers from different disciplines who will, alongside academics from the Durham projects itemized above, advance conceptual and methodological debates surrounding the ways in which other disciplines might and should work with the neurosciences. Each of the contributing projects (HtV, The Hub residency and CFiH) has been developing new interdisciplinary methods, though the models of interdisciplinarity differ across and within these projects. The workshop will address emergence by exploring what happens – to methods of enquiry and to the objects of intellectual concern – when researchers are entangled with one another in intense interdisciplinary exchange regarding the brain. The hope is that such “entanglements” will allow new modes of thinking and working to emerge – such that disciplinary expertise might be diffracted through researchers’ encounters with unfamiliar methods, modes of experimentation, and ways of conceptualizing key constructs. 

Experts from different disciplines and from the orbit of different projects will give short position papers in panels which seek to juxtapose their ideas so as creatively to spark new ideas and foreground axes of commensurability and incommensurability. Each workshop session will have space for participants to reflect on and interrogate emergent models and methods. The workshop will consider how such models and methods variously transform, disavow, encourage and/or close down existing (“disciplinary”) modes of thought and practice. Additionally, the workshop exemplifies the shared conviction that new areas of inquiry and ways of working do not emerge “out of nowhere”: they can arise through purposeful endeavour and creative, experimental practices that enable the collision of ideas that are not usually brought together. 

Short interviews and think pieces from workshop participants will be recorded. These will form an easily accessible digital resource for the latest thinking about interdisciplinary research involving the brain. 

The workshop will extend collaborations between researchers working within HtV, the Hub Residency and CFiH, as well as develop new national and international collaborations.

For further information about the workshop and/or the podcasts, please contact the Centre for Medical Humanities (mail.cmh@durham.ac.uk) and/or Dr Felicity Callard (felicity.callard@durham.ac.uk).

2013/14 Annual Programme: Light