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About Beautiful Brains Collaboratory


The Beautiful Brains Collaboratory is a transdisciplinary research team led by Denielle Elliott dedicated to investigating to exploring acquired and traumatic brain injuries through feminist, arts-based ethnographic and sensory methodologies. Our work bridges socio-cultural anthropology, science and technology studies, gender and feminist studies, and creative arts as we explore what it means to live with an injured mind.

Why beautiful brains? Inspired by the work of Eve Tuck (2009) who has advocated for a desire based approach to research rather than a damage centred research, we consider the multiple ways that brain injuries and neurological conditions more generally leave people changed, sometimes for worse, but sometimes for the better. Rather than understanding injured minds as inherently pathological ("damaged", "disordered"), we explore all the nuanced complexities of living with injured minds. But also 'beautiful brains' because as a team, we think we all have beautiful brains too. 


Our work encompasses non-textual forms, creative nonfiction, and affect theory to explore moderate to severe traumatic and acquired brain injuries. As part of that we are interested in questions related to memory and forgetfulness. Our team has a particular interest in visual culture: infographics, images used in scientific communication, and scientific images produced of injured minds. And we are also interested in testing and measures of brain injuries: standardized tests like the Montreal Cognitive Assessment tests, Mini Mental Health Status Exams, Glasgow Coma Scale, among others.


Our long term goal is to contribute towards improved care for those living with brain injuries.


The Beautiful Brains Collaboratory is funded by: the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University, and a number of small awards from the VPRI at York University.  

Lada Dedić's art from her Self Portrait:
Artist's Brain Series

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