Liya Yu — Neuropolitics. Literature. Activism.

Publications (selection)



The Routledge Handbook on Neuropolitics (co-editing with Matt Qvortrup), forthcoming 2024

A definitive guide to the new field of neuropolitics, with contributions from political scientists, political theorists, social neuroscientists and NGO leaders. Outlining how the big political questions of our time, from understanding voting behaviour to ideological preferences, to making sense of polarization, nationalism and racism, can be tackled through a paradigm shift based on insights into the workings our socially evolved human brains. 

Vulnerable Minds: The Neuropolitics of Divided Societies (Columbia University Press, July 2022)

Pre-order here

Exclusionary identity politics are unravelling post-Cold War liberal democracies, yet there is little focus on what kind of cognitive conditions drive the recent shift towards nationalism, racism and intergroup identity conflicts. This book lays out how we need to radically reframe our current epistemological and normative assumptions about how we function neurocognitively in hyperdiverse and divided societies. It is the first book to systematically theorize what the political neuroscience research of the last two decades on racism and identity exclusion mean for our current post-Cold War reality. It singles out dehumanization of others as one of the most significant disruptors of political cooperation in today’s liberal democracies. Dehumanization is presented as a universal human brain ability, which we might never be able to fully overcome, but have to learn how to manage and address as citizens, public representatives and activists. 


Vulnerable brains in anxiety cultures (in: Anxiety Culture: The New Global State of Human Affairs, eds. J. Allegrante et al., Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming 2023) 

The irresolvable political brain: Our neuropolitical limitations in hyperdiverse and divided societies 

EuropeNow, Jul 2018

Read it here.

What can new findings from the neuroscience on racial exclusion, prejudice and dehumanization of others tell us about our divided and fragile liberal democracies? Are our brains actually struggling to uphold liberal values? How can the current surge of nationalism and exclusionary politics be explained, and what kind of new neuropolitical language do we need, in order to address the inherent dehumanizing potential within all of our brains? An interdisciplinary article written from a political philosopher’s point of view, at the cross-section of neuroscience and politics.


Politische Fragen ans Hirn: Identitätspolitik aus der Perspektive der Politischen Neurowissenschaft (in: Identitäten des Selbst, Hg. Rainer Adolphi, LIT Verlag, 2019)

Hier als PDF lesen


An Dich, Identitätsschwester (oder Unsere Eigene Wirklichkeit)

Hier lesen in Internationale Politik, Jul/Aug 2019
Yu Identity Sister (English translation)
姐妹 修改 (中文翻譯)
Was ist die gelebte Wirklichkeit von Immigrantenkindern die in Deutschland aufwachsen? Welche Art von Rassismus und Ausgrenzung erfahren insbesondere AsiatischDeutsche Frauen und Mädchen in Deutschland? Wie vergleicht sich dies mit den USA? Ein politisch-literarischer Essay, der die Lebensgeschichte einer westdeutschen Chinesin und einer ostdeutschen Mongolin zwischen Berlin, München und New York verwebt.