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Institute of Advanced Study

'Being Human' Sub-Themes

The IAS Directors, in consultation with colleagues at Durham, have identified the following main sub-themes to be explored during 2008/09.  Details of activities falling under each sub-theme will be published shortly:

Home

This sub-theme will provide an umbrella for research that could include examining social and political structures and sense of place in terms of how this affects what it is to be human (e.g. community, nation, dwelling); what happens to the individual when these structures break down; home as a site for human experience; the effect of migration on the individual; and the use of home and its deprivation as a coercive force in society

Mind/Consciousness

This sub-theme will provide an umbrella for research that could include examining creative expression as an important element of being human; what it is to flourish as a human; models of consciousness in different periods (e.g. the classical period, the medieval period, the renaissance etc); and the ontogenic issue of when do we become human.

Boundary Crossing

This sub-theme will provide an umbrella for research that could include examining the boundaries between the human and the non-human (e.g. the human, animal, biological, divine, technological interface) and also the technologisation of the human (human-animal/human-machine).

Humanising Practice

This sub-theme will provide an umbrella for research that could include examining ethics of care; action as well as thought; humanising applied practice; the interaction between biology and culture (e.g. language, psychology, medical interests); and what happens when people are treated as non-humans by care professionals.

Crises of Personhood: The Rhetoric of Being Human in a Changing World

This sub-theme will provide an umbrella for research that could include examining changing notions of personhood through the rhetoric of identification, description and narration; the varying forms of personhood from society to society; the identification of ‘crises of personhood', such as the challenge, or temptation, to use new genetic knowledge to define persons; and the experience of being human in a democracy and the relationship between individuals and the modern state.

Abjection, Bare Life, and De-Humanisation

This sub-theme will provide an umbrella for research that could include examining de-humanisation as a process; how humans are damaged and destroyed by being identified/classified as targets/the enemy; and being human in time of war (socially, politically, ethically)