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Twin Research, Biography as Method, and More

The History of the Human Sciences has just released its December issue online. Featured in the issue are articles on twin research, sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (pictured left) and biography as historical method, photography and biological vision, and the role of the environment in early American sociology.

In “Twin research, revisionism and metahistory,” Thomas Teo and Laura C. Ball, both of York University, explore the carefully managed presentation of the history of twin research. As is stated early on, the “article does not provide a history but is interested in the historiography, or, better, the historical accounts and reconstructions, of twin research, written by insiders” (p. 3). Teo and Ball look at how insiders selected pioneers in the field and what historical evidence has been privileged in constructing a history of twin research. The abstract to this article reads:

We understand metahistory as an approach that studies how histories within a particular discipline have been written and focus on insider scientists’ reconstructions of twin research. Using the concept of ethical-political affordances we suggest that such histories are based on a management of resources that prove to be beneficial for representing one’s own research traditions in a positive light. Instead of discussing information on the context and intellectual life of pioneers of the twin method, which include high-caliber eugenicists and Nazi ideologues, and on how the twin method has been used and abused, insider scientists’ accounts present twin research as neutral, objective and void of any kind of political connotations. Continue reading Twin Research, Biography as Method, and More

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