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The Brain's Body

In The Brain's Body Victoria Pitts-Taylor brings feminist and critical theory to bear on new development in neuroscience to demonstrate how power and inequality are materially and symbolically entangled with neurobiological bodies. Pitts-Taylor is interested in how the brain interacts with and is impacted by social structures, especially in regard to race, class, gender, sexuality, and disability, as well as how those social structures shape neuroscientific knowledge. Pointing out that some brain scientists have not fully abandoned reductionist or determinist explanations of neurobiology, Pitts-Taylor moves beyond debates over nature and nurture to address the politics of plastic, biosocial brains. She highlights the potential of research into poverty's effects on the brain to reinforce certain notions of poor subjects and to justify particular forms of governance, while her queer critique of kinship research demonstrates the limitations of hypotheses based on heteronormative assumptions. In her exploration of the embodied mind and the "embrained" body, Pitts-Taylor highlights the inextricability of nature and culture and shows why using feminist and queer thought is essential to understanding the biosociality of the brain.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Introduction: The Social Brain and Corporeal Politics 1 1. The Phenomenon of Brain Plasticity 17 2. What Difference Does the Body Make? 43 3. I Feel Your Pain 67 4. Neurobiology and the Queerness of Kinship 95 Conclusion: The Multiplicity of Embodiment 119 Notes 129 References 153 Index 177

About the Author

Victoria Pitts-Taylor is Professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University and the author of Surgery Junkies: Wellness and Pathology in Cosmetic Culture.


"This book breaks new ground in feminist studies of neuroscience. ... [Pitts-Taylor] offers a glimpse of what social neuroscience might be if it took embodiment and social relationship seriously." -- Robyn Bluhm * American Journal of Sociology * "The Brain's Body is one of those books so incredibly useful for the work it does to help us understand and describe where it is we are-at a historical juncture where the stakes of feminist scientific literacy and engagement are high." -- Angela Willey * International Feminist Journal of Politics * "[R]ather than embrace research on brain plasticity as telling an agreeable tale of human freedom, flexibility, and adaptability, Pitts-Taylor considers findings that clearly matter-the effects of childhood poverty on the neurological development of language systems-and shows just how entangled this research is with imaginings of social 'others.'" -- Steven Epstein * LA Review of Books * "The Brain's Body's relevance and importance lie not only in this re-positioning of affect in neuroscience, but also in that... it deeply challenges the very presuppositions of the science itself, and how they function, in a burgeoning discipline that codifies our bodies and mind more intricately than ever before." -- Promise Li * Hong Kong Review of Books *

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