I was born in 1964, attended a grammar school in London, and began my higher education at Oxford University, but dropped out before completing my degree, abandoning the ivory tower for a decade of political activism in London, New York and San Francisco, during which I earned my living as a carpenter.
I completed my BA in my late twenties at New College of California, then returned to England, got an MA in history at Sussex University, and ended up getting funding from the British Academy to do a Ph.D. in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge.
After completing a dissertation on the entangled histories of archaeology and psychoanalysis (2001), I stayed in Cambridge for my postdoctoral research, which took the form of a Wellcome Trust funded project in the history and philosophy of the neurosciences, based at King’s College (2001-2004). I then taught history of medicine at the University of Chicago for two years before coming to UCSD in July 2007.
I have published on a range of different topics in the history of science, but my first two books both concern the history of archaeology. The project that I am currently working on is in the history of the neurosciences, and examines the reciprocal relationship between sensory motor psychology and Utilitarian political philosophy in nineteenth-century England.
I am a member of the Science Studies Program at UCSD, and I teach classes in the history of medicine and medical ethics, and the history of the life sciences, especially genetics and the neurosciences.
My latest book is Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
My first book The Tomb of Agamemnon (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006; London: Profile Press, 2006; Athens: Patakis Press, 2007) was published as part of the ‘Wonders of the World’ series under the editorship of Mary Beard.
In 2004 my brother and I co-edited a special issue Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences on the ‘Brain in a Vat’
‘An Experimental Life’ History Workshop Journal, 63, (2007).
‘Freudian archaeology and Cretan Psychoanalysis’ in Archaeology and European Modernity: producing and consuming the ‘Minoans’, special issue of Creta Antica, (2006).
Parry, B.C. and Gere, C., ‘Contested Bodies: property models and the commodification of human biological artefacts.’ Science as Culture (2006)
Gere, C. and Parry, B.C., ‘The Flesh Made Word: banking the body in the age of information.’ Biosocieties 1:1 (2006)
‘The Brain in a Vat’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Vol. 35, no. 2, pp.219-225 (2004)
‘Thought in a Vat: Thinking Through Annie Cattrell’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences Vol. 35, no. 2, pp.415-436 (2004)
‘A Brief History of Brain Archiving’ Journal of the History of the Neurosciences Volume 12, issue 4, pp. 396-410 (2003)
‘Inscribing Nature: archaeological metaphors and the formation of new sciences’ Public Archaeology, Vol. 2, no. 4, pp.195-208 (2002).
‘William Harvey’s Weak Experiment: the archaeology of an anecdote’, History Workshop Journal no. 51, pp.19-36, (2001).
‘Bones that Matter: sex determination in paleodemography 1948-1995’. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Vol. 30, no.4, pp.455-471, (1999)
The Utilitarian Self: medicine, morals and the human brain in nineteenth-century Britain Knossos
Out of the political convulsions of the great reform period in British politics came a new conception of what it meant to be human, one that happened to be perfectly aligned with the emerging ideologies of scientific medicine. Experimental physiologists, clinicians and neurologists used this new conception of the human condition as the basis for rethinking their investigative practices. The same philosophy that had made the state susceptible to reform also made the human brain available for experimental investigation. Between the 1830s and the 1880s, British neuroscience, philosophy of mind and moral philosophy reached an extraordinary accord, the result of which was a conception that I am calling the Utilitarian Self. This project will trace the birth, death and resurrection of the Utilitarian Self, from its roots in the political accord reached after the English Civil War, through its triumph and demise in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to its current revival in Anglo-American neuroscience.