Tag Archives: human sciences

August Roundup: journal issues on related subjects

You’ll find a range of relevant works this month in periodical publications near and dear to our subject. Among the usual suspects are History of the Human Sciences, History of Psychiatry, and Social History of Medicine.

HHS includes interesting pieces about interactions between American and German eugenicists during the interwar period, methodological suggestions for conducting histories of ‘the self,’ and mid-century Argentinian sociology and American imperialism. History of Psychiatry offers a piece that questions established narratives which have associated the decline in LSD therapy with prohibitive regulation, a survey of theories under the theory of mind umbrella, a history of the use of graphology in German psychiatry through 1930, an examination of the problematization of sexual appetite in the DSM, and a history of the use of European psychiatric hospitals by the Ottoman Empire (and the repatriation of mentally-ill Ottoman subjects from European countries). Not least, in the Soc Hist of Med, there’s a piece on the use of physical treatments by British military psychiatry during WWII, and also one on the hybrid forms of African-Amerindian-European healing practices employed by enslaved African healers during the colonization of the interior of Brazil.

Find the links to each article and their abstracts below, after the jump.

Continue reading August Roundup: journal issues on related subjects

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Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

The March 2015 issue of the journal History of Science is a special issue on “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China.” Guest edited by Howard Chiang (right), the issue includes several articles that may be of interest to AHP readers. Among these articles are ones on Pavlovianism during the Maoist era, the origins of zaolian (early love) as a form of juvenile delinquency, and debates over koro. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

Editorial: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China,” by Howard Chiang. No abstract.

“Disciplining China with the scientific study of the state: Lu Zhengxiang and the Chinese Social and Political Science,” by John H. Feng. The abstract reads,

This paper discusses the Chinese Social and Political Science Association and its impact on China’s inclination to Wilsonianism. The CSPSA was founded in Beijing in 1915. Two primary supporters were Lu Zhengxiang (China’s Foreign Minister) and Paul S. Reinsch (American Minister to China during the Wilson administration). It chose English as its official language in order to have dialogues with American scholars. The CSPSA had strong interests in constitutionalism, international relations and international law. As it pondered how to discipline China, it demonstrated its inclination to the American scientific study of the state. Epistemologically, this led to the political converge between China and the US during the Great War.

“From palaeoanthropology in China to Chinese palaeoanthropology: Science, imperialism and nationalism in North China, 1920–1939,” by Hsiao-pei Yen. The abstract reads,

Before the establishment of the Cenozoic Research Laboratory (Xinshengdai yanjiushi) in 1929, paleoanthropological research in China was mainly in the hands of foreigners, individual explorers as well as organized teams. This paper describes the development of paleoanthropology in China in the 1920s and 1930s and its transformation from the international phase to an indigenized one. It focuses on the international elite scientist network in metropolitan Beijing whose activities and discoveries led to such transformation. The bond between members of the network was built on shared scientific devotion, joint field experience, and social activities. However, such scientific internationalism was not immune from imperialistic and nationalistic interests and competition as most members of the network also belonged to institutions of the dominant hegemonic powers, such as the French Paleontological Mission and the American Museum of Natural History, operating by the logic of international system of imperialism. While these foreign institutions enjoyed relatively unrestricted access to the Chinese frontier and Mongolia in the early 20th century to discover and collect for the establishment of what they saw as universal scientific knowledge, in the late 1920s rising Chinese and Mongolian nationalisms began to interpret these activities as violations to their national sovereignty. The idea of establishing a “Chinese” institute to carry out paleoanthropological research in China took shape in such milieu. This paper highlights the entanglement between scientific internationalism, imperialism, nationalism in China in the early 20th century and the complicated process of knowledge formation at various national and personal levels.

“Pavlovianism in China: Politics and differentiation across scientific disciplines in the Maoist era,” by Zhipeng Gao. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue: “Ordering the Social: History of the Human Sciences in Modern China”

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New Isis: Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences, Neurohistory, & More

The March 2014 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, is now online. Included in this issue are a number of items of interest to AHP readers, including a special Focus section on Neurohistory. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences,” by Hunter Heyck. The abstract reads,

This essay argues that a new way of understanding science and nature emerged and flourished in the human sciences in America between roughly 1920 and 1970. This new outlook was characterized by the prefiguration of all subjects of study as systems defined by their structures, not their components. Further, the essay argues that the rise of this new outlook was closely linked to the Organizational Revolution in American society, which provided new sets of problems, new patrons, and new control technologies as “tools to think with” for researchers in this period. As examples of this new way of thinking and of the multidirectional traffic connecting control technologies, the Organizational Revolution, and the social sciences, the essay looks at Chester Barnard and his book The Functions of the Executive, at Warren Weaver and his essays on communication theory and on science and “organized complexity,” and at the works of J. C. R. Licklider and Robert Taylor on human/computer symbiosis through computer-based communications.

Focus: Neurohistory and History of Science

“Neuroscience, Neurohistory, and the History of Science: A Tale of Two Brain Images,” by Steve Fuller. The abstract reads,

This essay introduces a Focus section on “Neurohistory and History of Science” by distinguishing images of the brain as governor and as transducer: the former treat the brain as the executive control center of the body, the latter as an interface between the organism and reality at large. Most of the consternation expressed in the symposium about the advent of neurohistory derives from the brain-as-governor conception, which is rooted in a “biologistic” understanding of humanity that in recent years has become bound up in various nefarious “neoliberal” political and economic agendas. However, given the sophisticated attitude that neurohistory’s leading champion, Daniel Smail, displays toward evolutionary theory’s potential impact on historical practice, he is perhaps better understood as part of the brain-as-transducer tradition. This tradition, largely suppressed in current representations of neuroscience, has a strong theological provenance, ultimately concerned with our becoming attuned to the divine frequency, not least by extending the powers of the human nervous system through technology. This essay sympathetically explores the implications of this perspective for historical practice.

“Neurohistory in Action: Hoarding and the Human Past,” by Daniel Lord Smail. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Isis: Organizational Revolution and the Human Sciences, Neurohistory, & More

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History of the Human Sciences in Isis

The most recent issue of Isis, the journal of the History of Science Society, includes two articles on the history of the human sciences. Leila Zenderland explores the work of Max Weinreich (above) on culture and personality at the Yiddish Scientific Institute, while in the issue’s Focus section, Global Currents in National Histories of Science: The “Global Turn” and the History of Science in Latin America, Julia Rodriguez looks at the historiography of the human sciences in Latin America. Full titles, authors, and abstracts – along with human science related book reviews – follow below.

“Social Science as a “Weapon of the Weak”: Max Weinreich, the Yiddish Scientific Institute, and the Study of Culture, Personality, and Prejudice,” by Leila Zenderland. The abstract reads,

This essay examines Max Weinreich’s efforts to turn “culture and personality studies” into social and psychological weapons that could be used to combat the effects of prejudice. It focuses on language choice, audience, and purpose in the production of such knowledge by and for a Yiddish-speaking Eastern European population. During the 1930s, Weinreich led the Yiddish Scientific Institute, a research organization headquartered in Poland but affiliated with neither a state nor a university. He was profoundly influenced by a year spent at Yale and a trip through the American South visiting segregated African-American universities. In his 1935 study Der veg tsu undzer yugnt [The Way to Our Youth], Weinreich blended European, Soviet, American, and African-American research traditions to examine the effects of prejudice on child and adolescent development; he also considered the ways members of “despised minorities” could use such science. In 1940 he fled to New York and in 1946 published Hitler’s Professors, the first book analyzing the uses of the human sciences to advance Nazi state-sponsored antisemitism. In examining Weinreich’s Yiddish and English writings, this essay explores the broader relationship of social science not only to state power but also to statelessness and powerlessness.

“Beyond Prejudice and Pride: The Human Sciences in Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Latin America,” by Julia Rodriguez. The abstract reads,

Grappling with problematics of status and hierarchy, recent literature on the history of the human sciences in Latin America has gone through three overlapping phases. First, the scholarship has reflected a dialogue between Latin American scientists and their European colleagues, characterized by the “center/periphery” model of scientific diffusion. Next, scholars drew on postcolonial theory to undermine the power of the “center” and to recover the role of local agents, including both elites and subalterns. In the wake of numerous studies embracing both models, the way has been cleared to look at multiple dimensions simultaneously. Histories of the human sciences in the complex multicultural societies of Latin America provide an unusually direct path to integration. Moreover, this dynamic and multilayered approach has the potential to address ambivalences about authority and power that have characterized previous analyses of the production and application of knowledge about the human condition.

Book Reviews
Peter Lamont. Extraordinary Beliefs: A Historical Approach to a Psychological Problem. Review by: Michael Pettit.

Nicolas Langlitz. Neuropsychedelia: The Revival of Hallucinogen Research since the Decade of the Brain. Review by: Chris Elcock

Melissa M. Littlefield; Jenell M. Johnson, eds. The Neuroscientific Turn: Transdisciplinarity in the Age of the Brain. Review by: Stephen Jacyna

Paul Wouters, Anne Beaulieu, Andrea Scharnhorst, & Sally Wyatt. (Eds.). Virtual Knowledge: Experimenting in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. Review by: Joshua W. Clegg.

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New Blog: Andreas Sommer’s Forbidden Histories

Historian of the human sciences Andreas Sommer (right), a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge, has recently begun a blog Forbidden Histories. Sommer’s historical work explores the empirical study of the occult and the emergence of scientific psychology at the end of the nineteenth century. On Forbidden Histories he discusses his ongoing scholarship in this field in relation to our understanding of the nature of rationality. As he describes on the blog’s Welcome page:

…‘Forbidden Histories’ implicates the existence of a taboo, and of motivations and sensibilities that have kept it alive. This blog is thus primarily concerned with the functions of popular science and disciplinary history as knowledge management and tries to identify a variety of epistemologies and concerns (many of which, interestingly, have been mutually antagonistic), that have prevented mainstream historical information from entering common knowledge.

Obviously, as a historian of science I am neither interested nor competent to decide whether or not some ‘miraculous’ phenomena do in fact occur, and how to interpret them if they do. Rather, the purpose of this blog is to test questions and ideas concerning the historicity of certain standards of rationality – particularly those we are not accustomed let alone encouraged to critically reflect upon, even though they have powerfully shaped western individual and collective identities.

To be sure, my blog does not aim to provide easy answers but merely rehearses some of my personal reflections on what it means to be ‘rational’. Well aware that it thoroughly goes against the grain of many established ideologies and epistemological standard positions, all I can do is assure you that it strives to employ those principles that most would agree make good science as well as good history: contextualised evidence and differentiated analysis.

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