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New centre created to explore the rise of ‘emotional politics’

New centre created to explore the rise of ‘emotional politics’

  • Date19 April 2021

The importance of feelings for politics is at the heart of an exciting new London universities joint venture.

A new interdisciplinary ‘Centre for the Politics of Feelings’ will be established in September 2021 at the University of London in a partnership between its School of Advanced Study and Royal Holloway, University of London with the generous support of the NOMIS Foundation.

The Centre will be led by Manos Tsakiris, Professor of Psychology at Royal Holloway, and aims to address, from a multidisciplinary perspective, how emotions and their underlying neurophysiological mechanisms shape our political beliefs and behaviour, as well as how politics shapes and exploits our emotions.

Research fellows across life sciences, social sciences and the humanities will form the first generation of scholars to work at the Centre.  

Beyond its core team based in London, it will also forge collaborations with other academic and non-academic partners and will be supported by an international advisory board of leading scientists and scholars.

“Some feel we live in an era of anxiety, of fear or anger – visceral states, feelings and emotions have come to the forefront of the political behaviour of citizens and policymakers alike,” said Professor Tsakiris.

“While the presence of emotions in politics has long been assumed, the Centre intends to bring a new and unique interdisciplinary perspective, creating the intellectual space where different disciplines can work together to understand the intricate relation between emotions and politics in the 21st century of increasing polarisation, fake news, social media, precarious health and rising populism.”

Professor Paul Layzell, Principal of Royal Holloway, added: “We are very pleased to be leading on the Centre for the Politics of Feelings and working alongside the School of Advanced Study to be able to bring together some of the best experts in the field to further research this interesting concept. Its relevance will be lasting given the pressing challenges we are facing as a result of climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic and its legacy and the rise of artificial intelligence.”

The longer-term vision is for the Centre to become an internationally recognised research hub at the intersection of politics and emotions, co-hosting a range of disciplines, from life and social sciences to digital humanities and media.

Professor Jo Fox, Dean of the School of Advanced Study in London, added: “Understanding the deep connections between emotion and politics is especially important in our increasingly unstable and febrile political atmosphere. We’re thrilled that the Centre will be based in the School of Advanced Study and that we are part of this significant initiative.”

“The collaborative, interdisciplinary Centre for the Politics of Feelings will be creating a spark in the world of research by exploring new lines of inquiry that will advance our fundamental understanding of the human condition. We are very excited to be supporting this pioneering endeavour.” said Markus Reinhard, Managing Director of the NOMIS Foundation.

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