Fernando Vidal

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB)


Born in Buenos Aires (Argentina), I received a BA from Harvard University, graduate degrees in psychology and the history and philosophy of science from the Universities of Geneva and Paris, and a Habilitation from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. From 2000 to 2012 I was permanent Research Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin. I work on the history of the human sciences from the early modern period to the present, a topic I have taught at the undergraduate and graduate levels. I have been a Guggenheim Fellow, Athena Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation, Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome and Harvard University's Department of the History of Science, and Visiting Professor in Buenos Aires, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Mexico and Japan.

Research interests

My research concerns the history of the human sciences, especially the relationships of science and values as they shape views about the human being. I have written on topics such as the early modern sciences of the soul; the history of psychology, the imagination, miracles and science, and sexuality in the 18th century; the longue-durée history of the body and personal identity; psychoanalysis and psychiatry in the early 20th century; the progressive education movement; and the history of the notion of biocultural diversity. ‘Being Brains,’ a book focused on ‘neurocultures’ since the mid-20th century, is currently in press. Work in progress includes a book on ‘performing’ brains in film, and a project on how neurological conditions (in particular the disorders of consciousness and the locked-in syndrome) articulate with conceptions of personhood and the making of subjectivities in historical and transcultural perspective.

Selected publications

Vidal F 2016, ‘Modernizing the Miraculous Body in Prospero Lambertini’s De Servorum Dei’, In Messbarger R, Johns CMS & Gavitt, P, eds., Benedict XIV and the Enlightenment: Art, Science, and Spirituality, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 151-174.

Vidal F 2016, ‘Frankenstein’s Brains: the ‘Final Touch’, SubStance, 45(2), 88-117.

Vidal F 2016, ‘Desire, indefinite lifespan, and transgenerational brains in literature and film,’ Theory & Psychology, 26, 5, 665 – 680.

Vidal F & Ortega F 2016, ‘Culture: by the brain and in the brain?’ História, Ciências, Saúde – Manguinhos, 23(4), 965-983.

Selected research activities

In 2016 I was asked to join the Editorial Board of the journal History of the Human Sciences, was made Associate Member of the Centre Alexandre Koyré – Histoire des Sciences et de Techniques, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), and organized the international ICREA Conference “Personhood and the Locked-in Syndrome.”