Program on Science, Technology and Society at Harvard

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Tara Mahfoud

Tara Mahfoud

tara_mahfoud (at)

Tara Mahfoud is a Research Associate in the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at King’s College London (KCL), and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Science, Technology and Society programme at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in 2009. Tara is an anthropologist of science, technology and medicine interested in the cultural, social, political and clinical contexts and implications of developments in the neurosciences in Europe.

Her doctoral research analysed the Human Brain Project (HBP) – a controversial ‘big science’ project launched in October 2013 by the European Commission to build data and computing infrastructure for large-scale brain modelling and simulation. Based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with neuroscientists, engineers and project administrators across Europe she shows how large-scale visionary projects raise questions about whose knowledge matters – whose data and methods are integrated into international infrastructures, whose get left out, and how these choices are made.

Tara joined the HBP Ethics and Society sub-project in 2017 where she explores the potential future impacts of new knowledge and technologies, such as big data and machine learning, for neurology and psychiatry. At KCL, Tara also co-leads the Neuroscience and Society Network, an interdisciplinary forum for engagements across the social sciences, humanities and neurosciences.


Mahfoud, Tara, Christine Aicardi, Saheli Datta, and Nikolas Rose. (2018) “The Limits of Dual Use.” Issues in Science and Technology 34, no. 4 (Summer 2018). Available at:

Mahfoud, Tara, Sam McLean and Nikolas Rose. (Eds.) (2017) Vital Models: The Making and Use of Models in the Brain Sciences. Progress in Brain Research, Volume 233. Elsevier. Available at:

Mahfoud, Tara. (2014) “Extending the mind: a review of ethnographies of neuroscience practice.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8:359. Available at:


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