In March 2010, the Center for Gender Research at Uppsala University, Isabelle Dussauge and Anelis Kaiser Trujillo in particular, launched the first international and transdisciplinary NeuroGenderings workshop. Entitled "NeuroGenderings: Critical Studies of the Sexed Brain", its purpose was to create a platform for exchange between neurofeminist scholars. This workshop, 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, brought together experts from different disciplines to identify theoretical and methodological strategies for social scientists, cultural scientists and neuroscientists to engage with radical, intersectional feminist and queer studies of the brain.
The NeuroGenderings Network was born at this meeting. Founding members included Anelis Kaiser Trujillo, Isabelle Dussauge, Sigrid Schmitz, Deboleena Roy, Hannah Fitsch, Cynthia Kraus, Rebecca Jordan-Young, Catherine Vidal, Cordelia Fine, Emily Ngubia Kessé, Raffaella Rumiati, Kathrin Nikoleyczik, Marianne Regard, and Iris Sommer. Most of this group has continued to engage as the core group for the Network.
The first meeting of the NeuroGenderings Network, in Upsalla, Sweden, March 2010.
Our international network of scholars represents 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. Our research focuses on a variety of issues pertaining to gender and the brain; our goals include evaluating the current state of neuroscientific methods, findings, representations, and interpretations of empirical brain research (neurofeminism), initiating dialogue across disciplinary borders, and developing detailed and enriched approaches for neuroscientific analyses (feminist neuroscience). Moreover, the NeuroGenderings Network aims to develop concepts for more reflective debates in education and in all social spheres (an approach we call neuropedagogies). The Network published its first joint findings in a special issue of the journal Neuroethics, entitled “Neuroethics and Gender” (for an overview, see Dussauge & Kaiser 2012).
The network grew after its second conference, entitled “NeuroCultures—NeuroGenderings II,” which was held at the University of Vienna in September, 2012. At the conference, NeuroGenderings scholars discussed the impacts of neuroscientific research on gender constructions in socio-political and cultural fields (and vice versa) and analyzed the social and political underpinnings of the ongoing cerebralization of human life. The volume Gendered Neurocultures: Feminist and Queer Perspectives on Current Brain Discourses (Schmitz & Höppner 2014) brought together diverse analyses of scientific knowledge production focusing on sex, gender, and the brain and offered insight into gendered norms that frame current neurocultures. It also demonstrated how some of these norms could possibly be transformed while others tend to persist in scientific and popular discourse. Finally, the volume presented novel concepts for incorporating gender-appropriate neuro-pedagogies in teaching and social discourse.
The NeuroGenderings Network is a heterogenerous group of scholars; this heterogeneity is the basic prerequisite for the inter/transdisciplinary connections to the neuroscientific field. It informs the perspectives on neurosciences and current neurocultures and their concerns for the theoretical assumptions and implications tied to these issues. As a consequence, although the group’s knowledge production (as all scientific knowledge productions) follows some underlying themes, others are not necessarily shared and remain more controversial. Differences of opinions and approaches were highlighted at the NeuroGenderings III conference, entitled “The 1st International Dissensus Conference on Brain and Gender,” held in in May 2014 in Lausanne, Switzerland and organized by Cynthia Kraus and Anelis Kaiser Trujillo.
The NeuroGenderings IV conference took place at Barnard College in March, 2016, and was organized by Rebecca Jordan-Young, Deboleena Roy, and Gina Rippon. The theme of the conference, “What Counts as Evidence?” was a continuation of the dissensus meeting in Lausanne. The meeting challenged the question of collaborations within the group, as members have often radically different orientations towards data. It provided a space to exchange information on how to read across different forms of evidence and develop a variety of methods to address common challenges that are faced by and/or directed towards feminist neuroscience research. Indeed, the conversations initiated some new collaborations, which were published in a peer-reviewed special issue for Scholar & Feminist Online in Spring 2019.
The NeuroGenderings V ("NG5") conference took place at the Lorentz Center in Leiden, The Netherlands, in March, 2020, and was organized by Katherine Bryant, Hannah Fitsch, Anelis Kaiser Trujillo, Annelies Kleinherenbrink, and Mal Pool. The aim of this conference was to explore how the concept of interdisciplinarity and intersectionality, inspired by black scholars and scholars of color, could be integrated in the Network members’ work; the conference was therefore titled “Intersectional Analysis of the Sexed/Gendered Brain.” A related, although separate, special issue of Frontiers in Sociology, entitled "Challenges of Interdisciplinary Research in the Field of Critical (Sex/ Gender) Neuroscience", was edited by Hannah Fitsch (Technical University of Berlin), Flora Lysen (University of Amsterdam), Suparna Choudhury (McGill University, Montreal).
NeuroGenderings VI ("NG6"), which was held online in March 2022, was organized by Daphna Joel, Rebecca Jordan-Young, Robyn Bluhm, Deboleena Roy, and Giordana Grossi. Our theme was "The Ethics of Neuroscientific Studies of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality." At this conference, which was limited to the Neurogenderings Network plus a few invited attendees, we probed politically and intellectually “risky” territory, challenging ourselves and each other to articulate ethical practices with greater clarity and consistency. Our goal was to emphasize both questions that are emerging from the lab experimentalists in our group as well as political/philosophical interrogations.
The above historical account of the Network, written primarily by Sigrid Schmitz and Grit Höppner, appeared in their paper, "Neurofeminism and feminist neurosciences: a critical review of contemporary brain research."