‘The Decolonising Madness project is hiring its first post-doctoral fellow!

A post-doctoral fellow position on decolonising madness may be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below:

The Department of English, Germanic and Romance studies (ENGEROM), University of Copenhagen (UCPH), invites applications for a 30-month post-doctoral researcher position in the history of colonial and post-colonial psychiatry.

The position is funded by the ERC project ‘Decolonising Madness: Transcultural Psychiatry, International Order and the Birth of a “Global Psyche” in the aftermath of the Second World War’ (DECOLMAD). Starting date: 1 February 2021.

This is an exciting opportunity to join an innovative and inter-disciplinary research project, which aims to explore the emergence and historical development of the discipline of transcultural psychiatry after WWII and in the midst of decolonisation, and to unpick the complex intellectual and logistical relationships between colonialism and post-colonial ‘psy’ disciplines. 

The successful candidate will work closely with the project’s PI Ana Antic and will join a dynamic international research team, based at the Department of, ENglish, German and Romance (ENGEROM).

Qualifications and job description

DECOLMAD is a collaborative project, and the postdoctoral researcher will be a core member of a research team which, in addition to the PI, includes two other postdocs (to be hired in 2021 and 2022) and four research assistants. The successful candidate is expected to work both independently and in collaboration with the research team. He or she should hold a PhD degree in the field of medical humanities, with a focus on the history of colonial and/or post-colonial psychiatry. He or she should have in-depth knowledge of the history of West European psychiatry and its relationships with psychiatric developments in the colonies, and of the history of African and/or Asian psychiatry. Moreover, the candidate will have experience with research in medical and psychiatric archives outside of Europe, and needs to be able to do research in English and French.

Within the research team, the candidate will take part in broader intellectual and methodological discussions around the project’s goals and general directions, and will also be expected to design and work on an original research project (either in the form of a monograph or a series of articles). He or she will conduct primary source research in a select range of archives and libraries, analyse the material collected by the team, and take part in designing and implementing oral interviews. Experience with oral interviews and with collaborative work will be an asset. 

The postdoc position is a full-time research position and does not involve any teaching obligations. The candidate is also expected to take active part in the academic life of the department.

For further information, including more details on the DECOLMAD project, please contact project PI Ana Antic at ana.antic@hum.ku.dk

Please see the University’s website for more details about this job opportunity.

Oct 10th, 2020 – Dismantling White Supremacism: A Conversation and Plan of Action

AHP readers are invited to join a Forum for History of Human Science organized Open Discussion, as part of the 2020 History of Science Society virtual meeting. Please share this invitation widely with your networks.

“Dismantling White Supremacism: A Conversation and Plan of Action” (October 10, 2020, 2-3pm EST):

The past year has brought unprecedented political mobilization in History of Science, and academia more broadly, around dismantling anti-Black racism that upholds racist capitalism, along with patriarchy and indigenous dispossession.

This Open Discussion leverages our perspectives as historians of human science to explore cultures of White Supremacism as design problems: the way many organizations are designed are inherently discriminatory. Allied with efforts to develop cultures of inclusion, this discussion posits that additional (complementary) tactics are necessary to dismantle cultures of White Supremacism, as characterized in Jones and Okun’s “White Supremacy Culture” (2001).

The aim of this Open Discussion is to share concrete strategies and practical examples—such as the John Hopkins History Department plan of action—to support historians working to dismantle cultures of White Supremacism across multiple organizations, including in departments, committees, interest groups, and classrooms. This discussion will be relevant for scholars regardless of area of specialization in History of Science.

The Open Discussion addresses three questions:

  • What are the spaces and processes of gatekeeping? Allied with the concern about who and what is being kept out of the gates, this discussion focuses on the spaces and practice of gatekeeping. The discussion may explore how groups can undertake a self-study to take account of–and change–unacknowledged privileging of White standards, values, and ways of being.
  • How would our organizations operate, look, and feel if they were to be otherwise? Taking cues from Historians of Science developing speculative methods, the discussion will speculate on what “doing better” concretely and creatively will mean.
  • What skills, resources, and systems of support are needed for actionable redesign of organizations? The discussion may address the Principles and Protocols technique (described in Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy) and consider how to safeguard against burnout and withdrawal if organizational redesign for justice is to be a long-term and ongoing process.

This Open Discussion is an experiment in justice-oriented organization. Links to references in this abstract are at fhhs.org

Organizers: Laura Stark (Vanderbilt University), Ayah Nurridin (Johns Hopkins University), Dana Simmons (UC-Riverside University), Debbie Weinstein (Brown University) and Jacy Young (Quest University)

Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England

AHP readers may be interested in a new book, Coming To: Consciousness and Natality in Early Modern England by Timothy M. Harrison. The book is described as follows:

In Coming To, Timothy M. Harrison uncovers the forgotten role of poetry in the history of the idea of consciousness. Drawing our attention to a sea change in the English seventeenth century, when, over the course of a half century, “conscience” made a sudden shift to “consciousness,” he traces a line that leads from the philosophy of René Descartes to the poetry of John Milton, from the prenatal memories of theologian Thomas Traherne to the unresolved perspective on natality, consciousness, and ethics in the philosophy of John Locke. Each of these figures responded to the first-person perspective by turning to the origins of how human thought began. Taken together, as Harrison shows, this unlikely group of thinkers sheds new light on the emergence of the concept of consciousness and the significance of human natality to central questions in the fields of literature, philosophy, and the history of science.


Introduction: Beginnings

Part 1: Milton and the Birth of Consciousness
Chapter 1: Unexperienced Thought
Chapter 2: Human Nature Experienced

Part 2: Traherne and the Consciousness of Birth
Chapter 3: From Creation to Birth
Chapter 4: In Utero

Part 3: Locke and the Life of Consciousness
Chapter 5: Natality and Empiricism


The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century

AHP readers may be interested in a new book The Scientific Journal: Authorship and the Politics of Knowledge in the Nineteenth Century by Alex Csiszar. The book is described as follows:

Not since the printing press has a media object been as celebrated for its role in the advancement of knowledge as the scientific journal. From open communication to peer review, the scientific journal has long been central both to the identity of academic scientists and to the public legitimacy of scientific knowledge. But that was not always the case. At the dawn of the nineteenth century, academies and societies dominated elite study of the natural world.  Journals were a relatively marginal feature of this world, and sometimes even an object of outright suspicion.

The Scientific Journal tells the story of how that changed. Alex Csiszar takes readers deep into nineteenth-century London and Paris, where savants struggled to reshape scientific life in the light of rapidly changing political mores and the growing importance of the press in public life. The scientific journal did not arise as a natural solution to the problem of communicating scientific discoveries. Rather, as Csiszar shows, its dominance was a hard-won compromise born of political exigencies, shifting epistemic values, intellectual property debates, and the demands of commerce. Many of the tensions and problems that plague scholarly publishing today are rooted in these tangled beginnings. As we seek to make sense of our own moment of intense experimentation in publishing platforms, peer review, and information curation, Csiszar argues powerfully that a better understanding of the journal’s past will be crucial to imagining future forms for the expression and organization of knowledge.


Introduction: “Broken Pieces of Fact”

1          The Press and Academic Judgment
2          Meeting in Public
3          The Author and the Referee
4          Discovery, Publication, and Property
5          What Is a Scientific Paper?
6          Access Fantasies at the Fin de Siècle

Conclusion: Impact Stories

History of Human Sciences Early Career Prize 2020-2021

The journal History of the Human Sciences is now accepting entries for its 2020-2021 Early Career Prize. Full Prize details can be found here.

History of the Human Sciences– the international journal of peer-reviewed research, which provides the leading forum for work in the social sciences, humanities, human psychology and biology that reflexively examines its own historical origins and interdisciplinary influences – is delighted to announce details of its prize for early career scholars. The intention of the annual award is to recognise a researcher whose work best represents the journal’s aim to critically examine traditional assumptions and preoccupations about human beings, their societies and their histories in light of developments that cut across disciplinary boundaries. In the pursuit of these goals, History of the Human Sciences publishes traditional humanistic studies as well work in the social sciences, including the fields of sociology, psychology, political science, the history and philosophy of science, anthropology, classical studies, and literary theory. Scholars working in any of these fields are encouraged to apply.

Freedom and addiction in four discursive registers: A comparative historical study of values in addiction science

AHP readers may be interested in a forthcoming piece in History of the Human Sciences now available online (open access): “Freedom and addiction in four discursive registers: A comparative historical study of values in addiction science,” Darin Weinberg. Abstract:

Mainstream addiction science is today widely marked by an antinomy between a neurologically determinist understanding of the human brain ‘hijacked’ by the biochemical allure of intoxicants and a liberal voluntarist conception of drug use as a free exercise of choice. Prominent defenders of both discourses strive, ultimately without complete success, to provide accounts that are both universal and value-neutral. This has resulted in a variety of conceptual problems and has undermined the utility of such research for those who seek to therapeutically care for people presumed to suffer from addictions. This article contrasts these two contemporary discourses to two others that played vital historical roles in initiating both scientific and popular concern for addiction. These are the Puritan and civic republican discourses that dominated scholarly discussions of addiction in the early modern era. In each case, the place of values in these discussions is highlighted. By comparing them to their early modern historical antecedents, this article seeks to reflexively explore and develop more intellectually sound and therapeutically relevant alternatives to the troubled attempts at universality and value-neutrality now fettering debates in mainstream addiction science.

The Empire of Depression: A New History

AHP readers will be interested in a new book by Jonathan Sadowsky, The Empire of Depression: A New History. The book is described as:

When is sorrow sickness? That is the question that this book asks, exploring how our understandings of sadness, melancholy, depression, mania and anxiety have changed over time, and how societies have tried to treat something which lies on the border between the natural and the pathological. Jonathan’s book explores the various medical treatments for depression, classed as a modern illness with definite (but changing) symptoms from the 20th century onwards, in relation to a longer history of treatments for ‘melancholia’ and related states considered either as biological or social sicknesses or as a natural part of some people’s constitution. He also compares the western history of medicalising depression with the experiences of both sadness and clinical depression in non-western cultures, such as Nigeria and Japan. He asks, what have we lost as a consequence of the hegemony of the western clinical model, and how can we reclaim the patient experience in the face of sometimes hostile doctors and pharmaceutical companies? The book is poetic but well-researched, written by a leading medical historian, and distinguished from the crowd of books about depression through its global focus, and its historical rigour.

Institutionalizing Gender: Madness, the Family, and Psychiatric Power in Nineteenth-Century France

AHP readers may be interested in a new book: Institutionalizing Gender: Madness, the Family, and Psychiatric Power in Nineteenth-Century France by Jessie Hewitt. As part of The Sustainable History Monograph Pilot, the ebook edition this book is available Open Access. The book is described as follows:

Institutionalizing Gender analyzes the relationship between class, gender, and psychiatry in France from 1789 to 1900, an era noteworthy for the creation of the psychiatric profession, the development of a national asylum system, and the spread of bourgeois gender values.

Asylum doctors in nineteenth-century France promoted the notion that manliness was synonymous with rationality, using this “fact” to pathologize non-normative behaviors and confine people who did not embody mainstream gender expectations to asylums. And yet, this gendering of rationality also had the power to upset prevailing dynamics between men and women. Jessie Hewitt argues that the ways that doctors used dominant gender values to find “cures” for madness inadvertently undermined both medical and masculine power—in large part because the performance of gender, as a pathway to health, had to be taught; it was not inherent. Institutionalizing Gender examines a series of controversies and clinical contexts where doctors’ ideas about gender and class simultaneously legitimated authority and revealed unexpected opportunities for resistance.

Special Issue on Social Borrowings and Biological Appropriations

Several articles in the October 2020 issue of Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences may be of interest to AHP readers. The articles are part of a Special Issue on Social Borrowings and Biological Appropriations Guest Edited By Christopher Donohue.

Social borrowings and biological appropriations: Special issue introduction,”
Christopher Donohue. First paragraph extract:

The historical origin of this special issue dates back to a conference entitled “Biological Concepts, Models, and Metaphors in Social and Human Sciences” held at the Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI), Higher School of Economics in Moscow in October 2015. The goal of special issue (drawn from the conference aims) is two-fold: to provide a forum for intellectual exchange and to break down perceived academic and other barriers in terms of subject, historiography, geography, discipline, and methodology. The original conveners of the conference (myself, Professor Alexandr Dmitriev, and Professor Irina M. Savelieva of the IGITI) thought that artificial barriers existed between the histories of the biological and the social sciences, between overly abstract and methodological approaches, and between narrowly specific case studies and wider themes. Hence these papers seek to address these key gaps in the literature and seek to serve to bridge existing lacuna, for instance between literature which is overly specialized or time-period specific; between history of science and intellectual history; between history of the social and the behavioral sciences and the history of biology, genetics, and eugenics; and between science and ideas in so-called ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ Europe.

Transfer of Lamarckisms and emerging ‘scientific’ psychologies: 19th – early 20th centuries Britain and France,” Snait B.Gissis. Abstract:

The paper argues that transfer of assumptions, concepts, models and metaphors from a variety of Lamarckisms played a significant role in the endeavors to constitute psychology as a scientific discipline. It deals with such efforts in the second half of the nineteenth century and until early twentieth century in Britain and in France.

The paper discusses works by Herbert Spencer, John Hughlings-Jackson, Théodule Ribot and Sigmund Freud. It argues that certain crucial facets of their work as discipline-founders could and should be looked upon as resulting from such transfer of/from Lamarckisms. Specifically it looks at the constitutive roles of notions of hierarchical order, parallelism, self, memory and collectivity.

Race science in Czechoslovakia: Serving segregation in the name of the nation,” VictoriaShmidt. No abstract provided.

Inhibition and metaphor of top-down organization,” Roger Smith. Abstract:

The paper discusses the metaphorical nature and meaning of a concept, inhibition, ubiquitous in physiological, psychological and everyday descriptions of the controlling organization of human conduct. There are three parts. The first reviews the established argument in the theory of knowledge that metaphor is not ‘merely’ figure of speech but intrinsic to language use. The middle section provides an introduction to the history of inhibition as a concept in nervous physiology and in psychology. This emphasizes the conjoined descriptive and normative character the concept has had, integrating science and the ordinary person’s understanding of the achievement of top-down control in organized systems. The last section introduces a different dimension to the history and logic of control, pointing out that ‘economic’, as opposed to hierarchical, models of control also exist. The conclusion asserts the flexible, particular character of metaphor, encompassing mental and bodily realms – and hence the importance of historical work for its comprehension.

Issues of biopolitics of reproduction in post-war Greece,” Alexandra Barmpouti. Abstract:

The Greek biopolitics of reproduction during the post-war period was determined by the demographic figures. Instead of a rise in births, Greece experienced a constant downward trajectory of the birth rate throughout the second half of the twentieth century. The country also witnessed population instability due to the massive immigration in the 1960s and the wave of repatriation in the next decade. The article explores the state’s biopolitics in order to achieve demographic equilibrium by adopting a pronatalist perspective. The construction of biopolitics was influenced by the consecutive wars of the first half of the century resulting in the denial of any means suspected of reducing the birth rate, such as contraception and abortion. In parallel, the article investigates the attempts of a group of eugenicists to impose to the state authorities their own views on reproduction control. The key debates were birth control and abortion because these issues of reproduction were entangled with major social fermentations caused by urbanization, modernization, eugenics, and feminism. The Constitution of 1974 was instrumental in changing the biopolitics of reproduction by introducing equal rights to men and women. It provoked a series of legal transformations with regard to marriage, family, and reproduction.

Subversive affinities: Embracing soviet science in late 1940s Romania,” Marius Turda. Abstract:

This article discusses the appropriation of Soviet science in Romania during the late 1940s. To achieve this, I discuss various publications on biology, anthropology, heredity and genetics. In a climate of major political change, following the end of the Second World War, all scientific fields in Romania were gradually subjected to political pressures to adapt and change according to a new ideological context. Yet the adoption of Soviet science during the late 1940s was not a straightforward process of scientific acculturation. Whilst the deference to Soviet authors remained consistent through most of Romanian scientific literature at the time, what is perhaps less visible is the attempt to refashion Romanian science itself in order to serve the country’s new political imaginary and social transformation. Some Romanian biologists and physicians embraced Soviet scientific theories as a demonstration of their loyalty to the newly established regime. Others, however, were remained committed to local and Western scientific traditions they deemed essential to the survival of their discipline. A critical reassessment of the late 1940s is essential to an understanding of these dissensions as well as of the overall political and institutional constraints shaping the development of a new politics of science in communist Romania.

Resurecting raciology? Genetic ethnology and pre-1945 anthropological race classification,” Richard McMahon. Abstract:

This article places the current high-profile and controversial scientific project that I call ‘genetic ethnology’ within the same two-century tradition of biologically classifying modern peoples as pre-1945 race anthropology. Similarities in how these two biological projects have combined political and scientific agendas raise questions about the liberalism of genetics and stimulate concerns that genetic constructions of human difference might revive a politics of hate, division and hierarchy. The present article however goes beyond existing work that links modern genetics with race anthropology. It systematically compares their many similar practices and organisational features, showing that both projects were political-scientific syntheses. Studying how the origins, geography, filiations, ‘travels and encounters of our ancestors’ affect ‘current genetic variation’, both seem to have responded to a continuous public demand for biologists to explain the histories of politically significant peoples and give them a scientific basis. I challenge habitual contrasts between apolitical scientific genetics and racist pseudoscience and use race anthropology as a parable for how, in the era of Brexit and Trump, right-wing identity politics might infect genetic ethnology. I argue however that although biology-based identities carry risks of essentialism and determinism, the practices and organisation of classification pose greater political dangers.

CCHP’s Psychology Film Club

AHP readers may be interested in a Psychology Film Club organized by the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology (CCHP). The club has a couple of events coming up this fall. As part of the club, everyone watches a film ahead of time and then the CCHP hosts a Facebook live event where a panel of experts discusses the film, taking questions and comments from virtual attendees.

On Thursday, September 24, from 7-8pm (ET) the Club will be discussing One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The panel for the event includes CCHP Director Cathy Faye, along with:

Dr. Jennifer Bazar, Curator of the Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Center, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Brianne Collins, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Providence University, Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada

Dr. Charles Waehler, Associate Professor of Counseling Psychology, The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA

For more info, see the Facebook event.