Tag Archives: Foucault

Medical History: Families and 19th c. Colonial Lunactic Asylums

The April 2014 issue of Medical History includes an article of interest to AHP readers. Lindy Wilbraham (left), of Rhodes University, discusses the relationship between families and colonial lunatic asylums in late-nineteenth century South America. Title and abstract follow below.

“Reconstructing Harry: A Genealogical Study of a Colonial Family ‘Inside’ and ‘Outside’ the Grahamstown Asylum, 1888–1918,” by Lindy Wilbraham. The abstract reads,

Recent scholarship has explored the dynamics between families and colonial lunatic asylums in the late nineteenth century, where families actively participated in the processes of custodial care, committal, treatment and release of their relatives. This paper works in this historical field, but with some methodological and theoretical differences. The Foucauldian study is anchored to a single case and family as an illness narrative that moves cross-referentially between bureaucratic state archival material, psychiatric case records, and intergenerational family-storytelling and family photographs. Following headaches and seizures, Harry Walter Wilbraham was medically boarded from his position as Postmaster in the Cape of Good Hope Colony of South Africa with a ‘permanent disease of the brain’, and was committed to the Grahamstown Asylum in 1910, where he died the following year, aged 40 years. In contrast to writings about colonial asylums that usually describe several patient cases and thematic patterns in archival material over time and place, this study’s genealogical lens examines one white settler male patient’s experiences within mental health care in South Africa between 1908 and 1911. The construction of Harry’s ‘case’ interweaves archival sources and reminiscences inside and outside the asylum, and places it within psychiatric discourse of the time, and family dynamics in the years that followed. Thus, this case study maps the constitution of ‘patient’ and ‘family’ in colonial life, c.1888–1918, and considers the calamity, uncertainty, stigma and silences of mental illness.

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New Issue! History of the Human Sciences

A new issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are articles on the history of Female Sexual Dyfunction as a diagnostic category, Freud’s social theory, the role of the brain in dementia, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Contested psychiatric ontology and feminist critique: ‘Female Sexual Dysfunction’ and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual,” by Katherine Angel (above left). The abstract reads,

In this article I discuss the emergence of Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) within American psychiatry and beyond in the postwar period, setting out what I believe to be important and suggestive questions neglected in existing scholarship. Tracing the nomenclature within successive editions of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), I consider the reification of the term ‘FSD’, and the activism and scholarship that the rise of the category has occasioned. I suggest that analysis of FSD benefits from scrutiny of a wider range of sources (especially since the popular and scientific cross-pollinate). I explore the multiplicity of FSD that emerges when one examines this wider range, but I also underscore a reinscribing of anxieties about psychogenic aetiologies. I then argue that what makes the FSD case additionally interesting, over and above other conditions with a contested status, is the historically complex relationship between psychiatry and feminism that is at work in contemporary debates. I suggest that existing literature on FSD has not yet posed some of the most important and salient questions at stake in writing about women’s sexual problems in this period, and can only do this when the relationship between ‘second-wave’ feminism, ‘post-feminism’, psychiatry and psychoanalysis becomes part of the terrain to be analysed, rather than the medium through which analysis is conducted. Continue reading New Issue! History of the Human Sciences

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Foucault & the History of the Human Sciences

A special issue of History of the Human Sciences, dedicated to the work of French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault (left), has just been released online. The issue covers a wide range of topics in relation to Foucault’s work including madness, sexuality, technologies of the self, and political science, among others. Comprised of nine contributions from a number of prominent scholars, the issue is a must read for those with an interest in Foucault and his work. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Foucault across the disciplines: Introductory notes on contingency in critical inquiry,” by Colin Koopman. The abstract reads,

Foucault is one of the most widely cited thinkers across social sciences and humanities disciplines today. Foucault’s appeal, and ongoing value, across the disciplines has much to do with the power of his thought and his method to help us see the contingency of practices we take to be inevitable. It is argued in this introductory article that Foucault’s emphasis on contingency is as misunderstood as it is influential. I distinguish two senses of contingency in Foucault. A first sense, widely acknowledged, concerns Foucault’s facility at showing that a taken-for-natural practice is in fact contingently produced. A second sense, widely neglected, concerns the facility of Foucauldian methods for grasping how a given practice was contingently produced. The second sense of contingency opens up possibilities for practical transformation that the former sense of contingency largely leaves to the side.

“Déraison,” by Ian Hacking. The abstract reads,

Michel Foucault’s famous book on madness first appeared in 1961 as Folie et Déraison. When it was reissued in 1972, ‘Déraison’ had dropped from the title, but it remained dense in the text, often capitalized or italicized. No two texts, abridgements, or translations of the madness book are identical with respect to the word. It is translated as ‘unreason’, but what does it mean? How did Foucault use it? Why did he come to downplay it? The relationships between déraison and painting and writing are explored. It is noted that the idea of ‘archaeology of knowledge’ is introduced in connection with a discussion of folie and déraison as displayed in Racine’s Andromaque. Continue reading Foucault & the History of the Human Sciences

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New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The December 2010 issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are nine all new articles. Among the topics addressed in these articles are, James and Durkheim on truth, Freud and Krafft-Ebing on sexuality, and the historiography of sexuality. Additionally, Janet Martin-Nielsen (left) writes of the emergence of linguistics in the United States during the Cold War. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Durkheim, Jamesian pragmatism and the normativity of truth,” by Warren Schmaus. The abstract reads,

In his lectures on pragmatism presented in the academic year 1913—14 at the Sorbonne, Durkheim argued that James’s pragmatist theory of truth, due to its emphasis on individual satisfaction, was unable to account for the obligatory, necessary and impersonal character of truth. But for Durkheim to make this charge is only to raise the question whether he himself could account for the morally obligatory or normative character of truth. Although rejecting individualism may be necessary for explaining the existence of norms, it is not sufficient. I argue that Durkheim never succeeded in providing a full account of normativity. Of course, this is a problem that remains unresolved today. Nevertheless, Durkheim took an important step beyond James in recognizing the insufficiency of his individualist account of truth.

“Sexual science and self-narrative: epistemology and narrative technologies of the self between Krafft-Ebing and Freud,” by Paolo Savoia. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

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50th Anniversary of Madness and Civilization

The radio program, Philosopher’s Zone, of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), has produced a special episode to mark the 50th anniversary of Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization. As described on the program’s website:

Exactly fifty years ago, a 33-year-old Frenchman named Michel Foucault completed what would become one of the most influential works on the history of psychiatry: Madness and Civilization: A history of insanity in the age of reason. The book made a philosophical star of its author and changed our view of madness.

To listen to this episode of the Philosopher’s Zone click here. A thank you to the Society for the History of Psychology’s facebook group for directing AHP to this resource.

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New Issue: History of Psychiatry

The September 2009 issue of History of Psychiatry has been released online. Included in the issue are six all new articles, as well as a recurrent feature in the journal, “Classic Text,” in which a selection from a classic text in the history of psychiatry is reprinted.

For the September issue, the featured “Classic Text” is a translation of prominent nineteenth century alienist-philosopher Prosper Despine’s 1875 book, De la Folie au point de vue philosophique ou plus spécialement psychologique étudiée chez le malade et chez l’homme en santé.

Among the topics covered in this issue of the journal are Kant’s views on mental disorder, classical Greek conceptions of madness, Foucault’s contribution to the Anti-Oedipus movement, Viktor von Weizsäcker’s medical anthropology, and the work of psychologist James Mark Baldwin as precursor to contemporary Theory of Mind.

Listed below are the contents of this issue of the journal, as well as the abstracts for each article. Continue reading New Issue: History of Psychiatry

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Objectivity reviewed in Isis

ObjectivityIn the first issue of the one hundredth volume of Isis, Martin Kusch provides an extensive review of Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison’s Objectivity (pictured right).

Objectivity is the long-awaited expansion of Daston and Galison’s influential 1992 paper, “The Image of Objectivity,” into a hefty book-length investigation. Undoubtedly, Objectivity will be required reading for anyone in the history, sociology, and philosophy of science for years to come. This is because the book not only throws a striking new light on the last two hundred years of science, art, and philosophy; it also outlines and exemplifies a provocative, bold, and historically as well as philosophically sophisticated approach to the history of thought more generally. In its scope and ambition Objectivity reminds one of classics in the Annales school, like Philip Ariès’s L’homme devant la mort, or of Michel Foucault’s Les mots et les choses. It is likely that Daston and Galison’s chef d’oeuvre will prove equally influential. (p. 129)

For those interested in discussing how some of the ideas in Objectivity can be applied to psychology, AHP‘s own Chris Green will be presenting such a paper at the forthcoming meeting of Cheiron at Penn State: it is entitled, E. B. Titchener and the New History of Objectivity. 

For more information about Cheiron, the international society for the history of the behavioral and social sciences, click here. Also, get the updated conference program here.

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Foucault’s Introduction to Kant published

An English translation of Michel Foucault’s introduction to Kant‘s Anthropology from a Pragmatic View has been published. The text was originally a part of Foucault’s 1961 doctoral dissertation.

A thorough review of the publication by Béatrice Han-Pile of the University of Essex can be found on the Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews website here.

As Jeremy Burman brought to the attention of AHP readers in April of 2008 (when he first announced this then-upcoming publication), the translation has had its share of “scandal” attached. The publication, from Semiotext(e) and MIT Press, lists as its translators Roberto Nigro and Kate Briggs. The original English translation of Foucault’s introduction, however, has been claimed by Arianna Bove as part of her own doctoral dissertation and has been available online since 2004.  Bove gives the story of her dealings with Semiotext(e) — and the original proposal to publish the translation only to be dropped as translator when she refused to give her permission following a lack of communication — here.

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Foucault’s Kantian critique

In the latest issue of Philosophy & Social Criticism, 34(4), Christina Hendricks provides an important look back at a major influence on Michel Foucault’s historico-critical oeuvre.

In several lectures, interviews and essays from the early 1980s,Michel Foucault startlingly argues that he is engaged in a kindof critical work that is similar to that of Immanuel Kant. GivenFoucault’s criticisms of Kantian and Enlightenment emphaseson universal truths and values, his declaration that his workis Kantian seems paradoxical. Continue reading Foucault’s Kantian critique

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Michel Foucault online

FoucaultI recently came across the Michel Foucault Archives website, created and hosted by IMEC (the Institute of Contemporary Publishing Archives or l’Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine).

IMEC “manages archives and studies linked to different actors of the XXth Century writing and book world : publishers, writers, intellectuals, artists, book traders, journal editors, journalists, critics, literary agents, translators, printers, graphic designers” and “opens private papers to research within the frameworks of a public service with controlled access.” For a list of their holdings, click here.

Offline, IMEC is located in l’Abbaye d’Ardenne, a medieval abbey in Caen, in the region of Normandy, France.

Back to the Foucault Archives:

Continue reading Michel Foucault online

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