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Centre for the Politics of Feelings

NOMIS Project 2021

— 2026

In the current sociopolitical context of democratic crises and rising populism, our visceral states, feelings and emotions have come to the forefront of the political behavior of citizens and policy makers alike. Emotions are now seen as both drivers and targets of politics. Yet an empirically driven, critical analysis of the assumed emotional climate in politics is lacking. The sociopolitical conditions of the last decade as well as epistemological developments across sciences and humanities point to the need to go beyond long-standing, but simplistic, dichotomies between reason and social passions to explain political behavior.

The Centre for the Politics of Feelings has been established to address from a multidisciplinary perspective, how affect and emotions and their underlying neurophysiological mechanisms shape political behavior in intricate couplings with rationality, as well as how politics shapes and exploits affect and emotions. The Centre represents a focused, timely and multidisciplinary endeavor to give a new answer to an age-old question: What does it mean to be a political animal in the 21st century of “emo-cratic” politics, alternative facts, social media, precarious health and populism?

The Centre will house a core research team of early-career researchers who will be incentivized to cross disciplinary boundaries, grow in independence and attract additional funding. At the same time, the Centre will host visiting internationally leading established scientists and scholars to complement its existing projects or bring new ones. The goal is for this academic Centre to become a world-leading hub for the continuing understanding of how reason and social passions, in their inextricable symbiosis, define our political engagement with the social world.

The Centre for the Politics of Feelings is a partnership between the School of Advanced Study, the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Philosophy at the University of London and the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway University of London, and is directed by NOMIS Awardee Manos Tsakiris. The Centre is located at the Senate House in Bloomsbury, at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. It opened in September 2021.

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NOMIS Researcher(s)

Professor of Psychology
Royal Holloway University of London, The Warburg Institute
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