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Liya Yu 喻俐雅
- Cultural neuroscience and its implications for globalized political identities
- Human rights theory from a non-Western perspective
- German Idealism, especially Hegel and Hölderlin
- Political theology and 20th century Jewish tought
- Mental health and identity crisis amongst Chinese youth: Currently collaborating with Prof. Helen Verdeli and Columbia's Global Mental Health Lab on an emotional learning program for Chinese high-school students in the US
- Rise of Christiantity in China
- Human quality (素质) discourse in China
- State-led sterilization campaigns in post-war US and China
Liya Yu is a Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science Department. Her theory interests include the political philosophy of the cognitive and brain sciences, identity politics such as multiculturalism and nationalism, and intercultural perspectives of the history of political thought. Her comparative interests include EU identity politics, democratization in East Asia, rise of Christianity in China, and the relationship between mental health and civil society.
Intially trained as a political philosopher, she received her B.A. in Social and Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge (Christ's College), U.K. in 2008, where she also founded the 'Thinking Society' with Quentin Skinner.
As a Chinese-born German citizen, Liya speaks four languages and has worked in German and British government. Her opinions on identity, mental health and higher education have appeared in major Chinese and German newspapers and television stations. She was awarded the London Big Ben prize for being one of the "Top Ten young Chinese currently living abroad".
Within the university administration, Liya was the first student senator to co-chair the Columbia Senate’s External Affairs Committee.
Liya is the founding organizer of the Columia Brain&Society Graduate Seminar.
She blogs about the brain, identity and culture here.
What if one of our core cognitive dispositions – the everyday dehumanization of others – is at odds with the norms of inclusion and tolerance required in today’s liberal democracies, where rapidly diversifying communities are expected to co-exist peacefully with one another and cooperate on complex social issues?
This dissertation draws out the political implications of recent brain science research into the cognitive mechanisms of social exclusion. In particular, it looks at the political dimension of cognitive dehumanization of others, which researchers now deem to permeate all aspects of social life, and moreover, which they have come to treat as a basic universal cognitive ability that used to serve vital evolutionary purposes.
Building on this, my dissertation offers a new normative model for how public actors should approach diverse constituencies, crystallizing the conscious humanization of others as an indispensable neuropolitical condition, especially for overcoming the identity conflicts that riddle our globalized democracies today.
On a theoretical level, my model has implications for rational choice theory, democratic and multiculturalism theory, as well as critical theories of inequality and identity.
Advisers: Prof. David Johnston (Political Theory, Columbia); Prof. Jack Snyder (IR, Columbia); Prof. Lasana Harris (Brain and Psychological Sciences, University College London)
Theory-based research projects
Empirical/field-work based projects