Aren Roukema

Postdoctoral Fellow


Augmentation and Evolution: Race and the Emergence of the Superhuman Mind in Anglo-American Science and Culture

Genetic engineers, techno-futurists, and science fiction fans share an increasing fascination with the pitfalls and potential of mental augmentation. My research focuses on entanglements between the construction of race and the historical roots of this desire to imagine and develop superhuman mental capabilities. I am analysing competing theories of exceptional mental powers proposed in late-nineteenth-/early-twentieth-century mental science, evolutionary theory, popular fiction, and occult movements like Theosophy and Spiritualism. I hypothesise that these intersecting currents played a pivotal role in shifting the image of the superhuman from a supernatural or divine being to a naturalistically enhanced human. The specific goal of my current investigations is to trace the encoding of Euro-centric discourse and identity in these early representations of the superhuman mind, while also querying whether the new naturalistic category of the superhuman may have offered possibilities for undermining or reevaluating the presumed European identity of the advanced future-human.



Research Interests

Victorian popular culture
Heterodox religion
History of mental science
Science Fiction

Research Methodology

Critical race theory
Cultural history
New historicism

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.



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