The NeuroGenderings Network
The NeuroGenderings Network is a transdisciplinary network of ‘neurofeminist’ scholars who aim to critically examine neuroscientific knowledge production and to develop differentiated approaches for a more gender adequate neuroscientific research. Feminist neuroscientists generally seek to elaborate the relation between gender and the brain beyond biological determinism but still engaging with the materiality of the brain.
In March 2010, the Center for Gender Research at Uppsala University, and Isabelle Dussauge and Anelis Kaiser in particular, launched the first international and transdisciplinary NeuroGenderings conference in order to make available a platform for the exchange between scholars of neurofeminism. This conference was funded by the Swedish Research Council, as part of the excellence program GenNa: Nature/Culture and Transgressive Encounters, and by the Body/Embodiment Group at the Center for Gender Research. At this meeting, the NeuroGenderings Network was initiated. Scholars from Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia represent a broad range of disciplines such as neuroscience, the humanities, social and cultural studies, gender and queer studies, feminist science studies, and science and technology studies. They all research a variety of issues in the field of gender and the brain, evaluate the current state of neuroscientific methods, findings, representations, and interpretations of empirical brain research (neurofeminism), initiate dialogue across disciplinary borders, and develop detailed and enriched approaches for neuroscientific analyses themselves (feminist neuroscience). Moreover, the NeuroGender Group aims to develop concepts for more reflective debates in education and in all social spheres (an approach we call neuropedagogies). The NeuroGenderings Expert Group published its first results in a special issue of the journal Neuroethics, entitled “Neuroethics and Gender” (for an overview, see Dussauge & Kaiser 2012b).
The network grew after its second conference, entitled “NeuroCultures—NeuroGenderings II,” which was held at the University of Vienna from 13–15 September, 2012.3 The NeuroGender experts discussed the impacts of neuroscientific research on gender constructions in socio-political and cultural fields and–vice versa–analyzed the social and political underpinnings of the ongoing cerebralization of human life. The recently published volume Gendered Neurocultures: Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Current Brain Discourses (Schmitz & Höppner 2014) brings together differentiated analyses of scientific knowledge production focusing on sex, gender, and the brain and offers insight into gendered norms that frame current neurocultures. It also demonstrates how some of these norms could possibly be transformed while revealing how others persist in scientific and popular discourse. The volume, finally, presents novel concepts for incorporating gender-appropriate neuro-pedagogies in teaching and social discourse.
The NeuroGender Expert Group is in itself not homogeneous, neither in its disciplinary connection to the field, its perspective on neurosciences and current neurocultures nor concerning the theoretical assumptions and conclusions about these issues. In consequence, though ‘our’ knowledge production (as all scientific knowledge productions) has some common lines, others are more controversial (Kraus 2012b). The NeuroGenderings III conference, May 8–10, 2014 in Lausanne (Switzerland)4, organized by Cynthia Kraus and Anelis Kaiser, highlighted the different standpoints in the debate, and the discussion proceeds.
Citated from: Schmitz, Sigrid & Höppner Grit (2014): Feminist neuroscience: a critical review of contemporary brain research. Frontiers in Neuroscience. Special Issue Critical Neuroscience: The context and implications of human brain research, ed. by Suparna Choudhury, Jan Slaby & Daniel Margulies: doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00546.