Biology's gift: Interrogating the turn to affect

Papoulias, C. and Callard, F. (2010) Biology's gift: Interrogating the turn to affect. Body and Society, 16(1), pp. 29-56. (doi: 10.1177/1357034X09355231)

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This article investigates how the turn to affect within the humanities and social sciences re-imagines the relationship between cultural theory and science. We focus on how the writings of two neuroscientists (Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux) and one developmental psychologist (Daniel Stern) are used in order to ground certain claims about affect within cultural theory. We examine the motifs at play in cultural theories of affect, the models of (neuro)biology with which they work, and some fascinating missteps characterizing the taking up of scientific literature. While neuroscience frames the affective as part of a system of regulation that makes both self and social coherence possible, in cultural theory’s narratives, by contrast, affectivity becomes a placeholder for the inherent dynamism and mutability of matter. The article interrogates the consequences of cultural theory’s strange borrowings from neuroscience and developmental psychology in their institution of a model of subjectivity preoccupied with a lived present in excess of the hold of habit and embodied history.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Callard, Professor Felicity
Authors: Papoulias, C., and Callard, F.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Body and Society
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1460-3632
Published Online:09 April 2010

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