Danielle Carr

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Columbia U.

Grant number

Gr. 9728

Approve Date

October 23, 2018

Project Title

Carr, Danielle J.Z., Columbia U., New York, NY- To aid research on 'Cyborg Trauma: Brain Implants, Biocapital, and Affect in the Experimental Neuroscience,' supervised by Dr. Rosalind Morris

Preliminary abstract: This dissertation examines the development of Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a permanent brain implant currently being tested in humans to treat major depression related to chronic stress. Following the state and private partnerships to map the human genome, the US and wealthy European states are partnering with private capital to pour public funds into neuroscience. This research approaches these technologies of ‘brain mapping’ as state infrastructures created in conjunction with the military, private capital, and the remains of the welfare state. DBS is the flagship technology in the scientific quest for the ‘location’ of depression within the brain. It is vaunted as the ‘pioneer technology’ of new neuroscientific paradigms that reject language as a mode of diagnosis or cure in favor of an ‘objective’ ontology of measurable material objects used to extract the truth of the subject from its body. In this way, these technologies occlude political critiques of structural violence in favor of the individualizing narrative of a biologized ‘mental health.’ Yet my preliminary research suggests that even as DBS occludes structural critique, it paradoxically strikes at the heart of liberal notions of the autonomous citizen-subject, whose undetermined ‘free will’, parsed as agentic ownership of their body, is fundamental to the formations of labor, ownership, moral responsibility, and personhood at the ideological core of US and European liberal states. Against a backdrop of the dissolution of the liberal welfare state and the rise of public affects of despair, this dissertation takes the experimental development of brain implants as a paradigmatic site to understand epochal changes in citizenship, labor, political subjectivity, and the colonization of new frontiers of biocapital.