Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

Embodiment and Identity

Embodiment and Identity


Biomedicine and biotechnology have an effect on how societies conceptualise and behave towards various kinds of body. This includes embodied personal and collective identities.

We've carried out work on aspects of disability. This considers the lives of people with bodies that are generally considered ‘abnormal’. It looks at how genetic and other technologies interact with those categorisations.

Another example of our research in this field looks into the forensic and identification technologies applied to dead bodies. This research looks at topics such as how technologies change the social meaning of the dead body.

Read about our projects and publications within this theme.


Find out what projects we've been involved in.


European Forensic Genetics Network of Excellence, 2012-2017

Funding: FP7, €6,613,000
Co-ordinator: Professor Peter Schneider, Klinikum der Universität zu Köln
Co-investigator: Robin Williams

Naming the dead: social, ethical, legal and political issues of disaster victim identification by DNA, 2012

Workshop December 2012
Funding: Brocher Foundation, £25,000
Project Leads: Jackie Leach Scully, Robin Williams, of Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science, and Andreas Kleiser, International Committee for Missing Persons

Embodied Selves in Transition: Disabled Young Bodies 2011 – 2013

Funding: ESRC, £229,000 to PEALS
Principal Investigator: Janice McLaughlin
Co-investigators: Professor Allan Colver, Institute of Health and Society, and Professor Patrick Olivier, School of Computer Sciences
Read more about this project.

Known soldiers: DNA identification of military remains at Fromelles, 2011-2012

Funding: Faculty and School Research Funds, £4,300
Principal Investigator: Jackie Leach Scully

Does Every Child Matter, Post-Blair? The interconnections of disabled childhoods, 2008-2011

Funding: ESRC £205,000 (£9,000 to PEALS)
Principal Investigator: Professor Dan Goodley, Manchester Metropolitan University 
Co-investigator: Janice McLaughlin

How gay are your genes? 2004-2006

Funding: Wellcome Trust and Royal Society, £53,150
Principal Investigator: Tom Shakespeare
Read more about this project.

Memory and Forgetting, 2002-2003

Funding: Arts Council and NESTA, £38,000
Principal Investigator: Tom Shakespeare
Read more about this project.


Find out about some of our publications for this theme.


Our latest publications in this area include:

Scully JL, Woodward R. Naming the unknown of Fromelles: DNA profiling, ethics and the identification of First World War bodies. Journal of War and Culture Studies 2012. In Press

Scully JL. ‘Choosing disability’, symbolic law, and the media. Medical Law International 2011, 11(3), 197-212.

McLaughlin J, Phillimore P, Richardson D, ed. Contesting Recognition: Culture, Identity and Citizenship. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.

Hagger EL, Woods S, ed. Good Death?: Law and Ethics in Practice. Ashgate, 2011. Submitted