Category Archives: Books

Sandra Harding interview on News Books in Sci, Tech, & Soc

9780226241364New Books in Science, Technology, and Society‘s Carla Nappi recently interviewed Sandra Harding about her volume Objectivity and Diversity: Another Logic of Scientific Research (University of Chicago Press, 2015).

From the back of the book:

Harding calls for a science that is both more epistemically adequate and socially just, a science that would ask: How are the lives of the most economically and politically vulnerable groups affected by a particular piece of research? Do they have a say in whether and how the research is done? Should empirically reliable systems of indigenous knowledge count as “real science”? Ultimately, Harding argues for a shift from the ideal of a neutral, disinterested science to one that prizes fairness and responsibility.

In the podcast Harding discusses her personal background to the program of research which led to the book, as well as touching on the themes of the volumes’ various chapters: the relevant socio-political conditions for the current positivist and secularist conceptualizations of scientific objectivity within the philosophy of science; the development of research fields in science studies which have provided critical perspectives thereof; strategies for engaging in her ‘stronger’ objectivity that can provide resources for identifying how values and perspectives constitute what research is undertaken, how it is undertaken, and the conclusions we derive from it; and arguments for a pluralistic definition of science that validates ways of knowing that have traditionally been marginalized. In conclusion she provides an introduction to her latest research on postcolonialist science and technology studies in relation to Latin America.

Find Nappi’s interview here.

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New Book: Under the Strain of Color: Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry

Gabriel N. Mendes, an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies and of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of California, San Diego, has a new book out: Under the Strain of Color: Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry. As described on the Cornell University Press website,

In Under the Strain of Color, Gabriel N. Mendes recaptures the history of a largely forgotten New York City institution that embodied new ways of thinking about mental health, race, and the substance of citizenship. Harlem’s Lafargue Mental Hygiene Clinic was founded in 1946 as both a practical response to the need for low-cost psychotherapy and counseling for black residents (many of whom were recent migrants to the city) and a model for nationwide efforts to address racial disparities in the provision of mental health care in the United States.

The result of a collaboration among the psychiatrist and social critic Dr. Fredric Wertham, the writer Richard Wright, and the clergyman Rev. Shelton Hale Bishop, the clinic emerged in the context of a widespread American concern with the mental health of its citizens. It proved to be more radical than any other contemporary therapeutic institution, however, by incorporating the psychosocial significance of antiblack racism and class oppression into its approach to diagnosis and therapy.

Mendes shows the Lafargue Clinic to have been simultaneously a scientific and political gambit, challenging both a racist mental health care system and supposedly color-blind psychiatrists who failed to consider the consequences of oppression in their assessment and treatment of African American patients. Employing the methods of oral history, archival research, textual analysis, and critical race philosophy, Under the Strain of Color contributes to a growing body of scholarship that highlights the interlocking relationships among biomedicine, institutional racism, structural violence, and community health activism.

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Publication Announcement: The Wiley Handbook of Theoretical & Philosophical Psychology

1118748336This month saw the publication of a collaborative text on theoretical and philosophical psychology, edited by Jack Martin, Jeff Sugarman, and Kathleen Slaney out of Simon Fraser University.

The volume is comprised of sections on: philosophical/conceptual approaches, historical approaches, narrative and social psychological approaches, and theoretical studies of scientific, professional, and life practices.

Chapters of particular interest to our readership include:

  • Theory for and as Social Practice of Realizing the Future: Implications from a Transformative Activist Stance, by Anna Stetsenko
  • Historical Thinking as a Tool for Theoretical Psychology: On Objectivity by Thomas Teo
  • The History of Psychological Objects by Adrian Brock
  • Historical Ontology, by Jeff Sugarman
  • Historiometry, by Dean Keith Simonton
  • Statistical Thinking in Psychological Research: In Quest of Clarity through Historical Inquiry and Conceptual Analysis, by James T. Lamiell
  • Allies in Interdisciplinary Spaces: Theoretical and Science Studies, by Kareen R. Malone and Lisa M. Osbeck
  • Feminism and Theoretical Psychology, by Alexandra Rutherford, Kate Sheese, and Nora Ruck

The book can be purchased here.

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New Books in STS Interview: Matthew Heaton’s Black Skin, White Coats

New Books in Science, Technology, and Society, part of the New Books Network, has posted an interview with Matthew Heaton about his recent book Black Skin, White Coats: Nigerian Psychiatrists, Decolonization, and the Globalization of Psychiatry

As described on the publisher’s website,

Black Skin, White Coats is a history of psychiatry in Nigeria from the 1950s to the 1980s. Working in the contexts of decolonization and anticolonial nationalism, Nigerian psychiatrists sought to replace racist colonial psychiatric theories about the psychological inferiority of Africans with a universal and egalitarian model focusing on broad psychological similarities across cultural and racial boundaries. Particular emphasis is placed on Dr. T. Adeoye Lambo, the first indigenous Nigerian to earn a specialty degree in psychiatry in the United Kingdom in 1954. Lambo returned to Nigeria to become the medical superintendent of the newly founded Aro Mental Hospital in Abeokuta, Nigeria’s first “modern” mental hospital. At Aro, Lambo began to revolutionize psychiatric research and clinical practice in Nigeria, working to integrate “modern” western medical theory and technologies with “traditional” cultural understandings of mental illness. Lambo’s research focused on deracializing psychiatric thinking and redefining mental illness in terms of a model of universal human similarities that crossed racial and cultural divides.

Black Skin, White Coats is the first work to focus primarily on black Africans as producers of psychiatric knowledge and as definers of mental illness in their own right. By examining the ways that Nigerian psychiatrists worked to integrate their psychiatric training with their indigenous backgrounds and cultural and civic nationalisms, Black Skin, White Coats provides a foil to Frantz Fanon’s widely publicized reactionary articulations of the relationship between colonialism and psychiatry. Black Skin, White Coats is also on the cutting edge of histories of psychiatry that are increasingly drawing connections between local and national developments in late-colonial and postcolonial settings and international scientific networks. Heaton argues that Nigerian psychiatrists were intimately aware of the need to engage in international discourses as part and parcel of the transformation of psychiatry at home.

The full interview can be heard online here.

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Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’

coverThe European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics‘ publication ERCIM NEWS put out a special issue on ‘scientific data sharing and re-use.’ In it Christine Borgman (out of UCLA’s department of Information Studies) touches in brief on some of the topics covered in her new volume Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015, MIT Press).

In her book, Borgman locates data as only meaningful within borgmaninfrastructures or ecologies of knowledge, and discusses the management and exploitation of data as particular kinds of investments in the future of scholarship. Her take on the history of big data and the growing enthusiasm for data sharing, which she asserts often obscures the challenges and complexities of data stewardship, is relevant to historians of the social sciences. An excerpt:

Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. Studying data is a means to observe how rapidly the landscape of scholarly work in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities is changing. Inside the black box of data is a plethora of research, technology, and policy issues. Data are best understood as representations of observations, objects, or other entities used as evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship. Rarely do they stand alone, separable from software, protocols, lab and field conditions, and other context. The lack of agreement on what constitutes data underlies the difficulties in sharing, releasing, or reusing research data.  Continue reading Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’

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Somatosphere Review: Nicolas Langlitz’s Neuropsychedelia

Head on over to the blog Somatosphere for a review of Nicolas Langlitz’s recent book, Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research Since the Decade of the Brain. The volume is described on the publisher’s website as an examination of

the revival of psychedelic science since the “Decade of the Brain.” After the breakdown of this previously prospering area of psychopharmacology, and in the wake of clashes between counterculture and establishment in the late 1960s, a new generation of hallucinogen researchers used the hype around the neurosciences in the 1990s to bring psychedelics back into the mainstream of science and society. This book is based on anthropological fieldwork and philosophical reflections on life and work in two laboratories that have played key roles in this development: a human lab in Switzerland and an animal lab in California. It sheds light on the central transnational axis of the resurgence connecting American psychedelic culture with the home country of LSD. In the borderland of science and religion, Neuropsychedelia explores the tensions between the use of hallucinogens to model psychoses and to evoke spiritual experiences in laboratory settings. Its protagonists, including the anthropologist himself, struggle to find a place for the mystical under conditions of late-modern materialism.

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New Book: The Classification of Sex, Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

the-classification-of-sexBy Donna J. Drucker, guest professor at Technische Universität Darmstadt. Published by the University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014. The back cover reads:

Alfred C. Kinsey’s revolutionary studies of human sexual behavior are world-renowned. His meticulous methods of data collection, from comprehensive entomological assemblies to personal sex history interviews, raised the bar for empirical evidence to an entirely new level. In The Classification of Sex, Donna J. Drucker presents an original analysis of Kinsey’s scientific career in order to uncover the roots of his research methods. Continue reading New Book: The Classification of Sex, Alfred Kinsey and the Organization of Knowledge

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New Book: Beautiful Data, A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

beautifuldataBy Orit Halpern, assistant professor at the New School for Social Research/Eugene Lang College and associate of their Parsons the New School of Design. Published by the Duke University Press. The dust jacket flap text reads as follows:


Beautiful Data is both a history of big data and interactivity, and a sophisticated meditation on ideas about vision and cognition in the second half of the twentieth century.  Continue reading New Book: Beautiful Data, A History of Vision and Reason since 1945

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New Edition: Baker & Benjamin’s From Séance to Science

The second edition of David Baker and Ludy Benjamin, Jr.’s From Séance to Science: A History of the Profession of Psychology in America is now available. As described on the publisher’s website,

This book is intended to round out the picture of American psychology’s past, adding the history of psychological practice to the story of psychological science. Written by two well-recognized authorities in the field, this book covers the profession and practice of psychology in America from the late nineteenth century to the present. From Séance to Science tells the story of psychologists who sought and seek to apply the knowledge of their science to the practical problems of the world, whether those problems lay in businesses, schools, families, or in the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of individuals. Engagingly written and full of interesting examples, this book includes figures and photos from the Archives of the History of American Psychology. This is the story of individuals, trained in psychology, who function as school psychologists, counseling psychologists, clinical psychologists, and industrial psychologists. These are psychology’s practitioners, meaning that they take the knowledge base of psychology and use it for practical purposes outside of the classroom and outside of the laboratory.

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New Book: S. D. Lamb’s Pathologist of the Mind


Historian of Medicine S. D. Lamb has recently published Pathologist of the Mind: Adolf Meyer and the Origins of American Psychiatry. As described on the Johns Hopkins University Press website,

During the first half of the twentieth century, Adolf Meyer was the most authoritative and influential psychiatrist in the United States. In 1908, when the Johns Hopkins Hospital established the first American university clinic devoted to psychiatry—still a nascent medical specialty at the time—Meyer was selected to oversee the enterprise. The Henry Phipps Psychiatric Clinic opened in 1913, and Meyer served as psychiatrist-in-chief at the hospital until 1941.

In Pathologist of the Mind, S. D. Lamb explores how Meyer used his powerful position to establish psychiatry as a clinical science that operated like the other academic disciplines at the country’s foremost medical school. In addition to successfully arguing for a scientific and biological approach to mental illness, Meyer held extraordinary sway over state policies regarding the certification of psychiatrists. He also trained hundreds of specialists who ultimately occupied leadership positions and made significant contributions in psychiatry, neurology, experimental psychology, social work, and public health.

Although historians have long recognized Meyer’s authority, his concepts and methods have never before received a systematic historical analysis. His convoluted theory of “psychobiology,” along with his notoriously ineffective attempts to explain it in print, continue to baffle many clinicians. Pathologist of the Mind aims to rediscover Meyerian psychiatry by eavesdropping on Meyer’s informal and private conversations with his patients and colleagues. Weaving together private correspondence and uniquely detailed case histories, Lamb examines Meyer’s efforts to institute a clinical science of psychiatry in the United States—one that harmonized the expectations of scientific medicine with his concept of the person as a biological organism and mental illness as an adaptive failure. The first historian ever granted access to these exceptional medical records, Lamb offers a compelling new perspective on the integral but misunderstood legacy of Adolf Meyer.

Full details on the volume can be found here.

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