Kinship acknowledged and denied: Collecting and publishing kinship materials in 19th-century settler-colonial states

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in History of the Human Sciences: “Kinship acknowledged and denied: Collecting and publishing kinship materials in 19th-century settler-colonial states,” by Helen Gardner. Abstract:

In the second half of the 19th century, anthropology rode the coat-tails of modernity, adopting new printing technologies, following new travel networks, and gaining increasing access to Indigenous people as colonialism spread and new policies were developed to contain and control people in settler-colonial states. The early innovator in kinship studies Lewis Henry Morgan and his two greatest proteges, Lorimer Fison and A. W. Howitt, working respectively in the United States, Fiji, and Australia, epitomised this conflation of governance, technologies of representation, and anthropology. They corresponded on the alterity of kinship systems across increasingly regularised postal routes, and developed new forms of collecting and new diagrammatic representations of kinship using developments at the press. Nineteenth-century kinship studies were focused exclusively on relationships formed through biology and descent, and there was little recognition of kinship making beyond these forms. This was especially significant for Howitt, whose closest Aboriginal interlocutor, Tulaba, claimed him as a brogan (brother), according to Gunaikurnai kinship paradigms. This article tracks the links between the collection and publication of kinship material in the questionnaires and the books of the latter part of the 19th century across the English-speaking world and the outcomes for Indigenous peoples, as arguments for distinctive kinship systems helped define their ‘primitiveness’ and dismissed Aboriginal attempts to forge kinship links across the settler/Indigenous divide.

CFP: Eighth Annual Conference on the History of Recent Social Science (HISRESS)

CFP: Eighth Annual Conference on the History of Recent Social Science (HISRESS)

Department of History of Science and Ideas, Uppsala University

9–10 June 2023

This two-day conference of the Society for the History of Recent Social Science (HISRESS), at Uppsala University in Sweden, will bring together researchers working on the history of post-World War II social science. It will provide a forum for the latest research on the cross-disciplinary history of the post-war social sciences, including but not limited to anthropology, economics, psychology, political science, and sociology as well as related fields like area studies, communication studies, history, international relations, law, and linguistics. The conference aims to build upon the recent emergence of work and conversation on cross-disciplinary themes in the postwar history of the social sciences.

Submissions are welcome in such areas including, but not restricted to:

  • The interchange of social science concepts and figures among the academy and wider intellectual and popular spheres
  • Comparative institutional histories of departments and programs
  • Border disputes and boundary work between disciplines as well as academic cultures
  • Themes and concepts developed in the history and sociology of natural and physical science, reconceptualized for the social science context
  • Professional and applied training programs and schools, and the quasi-disciplinary fields (like business administration) that typically housed them
  • The role of social science in post-colonial state-building governance
  • Social science adaptations to the changing media landscape
  • The role and prominence of disciplinary memory in a comparative context
  • Engagements with matters of gender, sexuality, race, religion, nationality, disability and other markers of identity and difference

The two-day conference will be organized as a series of one-hour, single-paper sessions attended by all participants. Ample time will be set aside for intellectual exchange between presenters and attendees, as all participants are expected to read pre-circulated papers in advance.

Proposals should contain no more than 1000 words, indicating the originality of the paper. The deadline for receipt of abstracts is February 3, 2023. Final notification will be given in early March 2023 after proposals have been reviewed. Completed papers will be expected by May 5, 2023.

Please note that published or forthcoming papers are not eligible, owing to the workshop format.

The organizing committee consists of Jenny Andersson (Uppsala University), Jamie Cohen-Cole (George Washington University), Philippe Fontaine (École normale supérieure Paris-Saclay), Jeff Pooley (Muhlenberg College), and Per Wisselgren (Uppsala University).

All proposals and requests for information should be sent to submissions@hisress.org.

Boston Review: Just Wear Your Smile – The Gender Politics of Positive Psychology

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in Boston Review. “Just Wear Your Smile” by Micki McElya explores the gender politics of Positive Psychology. As McElya writes,

Critics of Positive Psychology note how it embraces a neoliberal logic that shifts the onus of unhappiness and inequality away from larger systems onto individual behavior, making sadness a matter of “mindset,” personal responsibility, and choice. Positive Psychology lends the language and authority of “science”—“data,” “evidence-based,” “universal,” “fact”—to a highly subjective and ideologically driven version of what constitutes common values, individual strengths, and a good life. In the end, critics charge, its ultimate aim is to assimilate people at their deepest levels to the inequities, oppression, stress, and thwarted aspirations of neoliberal capitalism, privatization, austerity, and the gig economy.

Less well-explored have been the field’s insidious assumptions that happiness and well-being are fundamentally tied to normative gender roles, heterosexual monogamy, family values, Christian ethics, white supremacy, American exceptionalism, and militarism. With the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the legalization of same-sex marriage, this has been expanded to include homonormative marriage and some gays’ and lesbians’ military service.

The piece can be read in full here.

NYT: The Forgotten Lessons of the Recovered Memory Movement

AHP readers may be interested in a new piece in the New York Times by Ethan Watters: “The Forgotten Lessons of the Recovered Memory Movement.” As Watters writes,

What happened during recovered memory therapy sessions is no mystery. Therapists candidly revealed their techniques in books, conference speeches and academic papers and on daytime television talk shows. The process of hunting for abuse memories and overcoming the patient’s “denial” was not a subtle one.

Therapists used relaxation exercises, age regression, dream interpretation, psychodrama, sodium amytal and hypnosis to help clients visualize abuse. All of these techniques, we know now, are much more likely to distort memory than to enhance recall. Still, it is hard to believe that these tactics alone could have persuaded so many people to rewrite the histories of their childhoods so dramatically; what is often underappreciated is that much of the belief-building power of recovered memory therapy came from outside the consultation room.

The full piece can be read online here.

Formal and Informal Infrastructures of Collaboration in the Human Brain Project

AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access piece in Science, Technology, & Human Values:Formal and Informal Infrastructures of Collaboration in the Human Brain Project,” by Christine Aicardi and Tara Mahfoud. Abstract:

This article draws on long-term engagement with the Human Brain Project (HBP), one of the Future and Emerging Technology Flagship Initiatives funded by the European Commission to address EU “grand challenges” of understanding the human brain and applying these insights to brain-inspired technology development. Based on participant observation and interviews with researchers and project administrators, our findings suggest that the formal infrastructure built to facilitate and structure collaboration within large-scale interdisciplinary research projects can be in tension with the ways researchers collaborate. While much of the literature on infrastructure focuses on top-down, formal infrastructural design, we also pay attention to the informal, bottom-up infrastructural assemblage involved in large-scale interdisciplinary collaborations. This brings into question how scientists and science funders navigate the tensions and interactions between formal and informal infrastructure, rendering certain kinds of collaboration and knowledge (in)visible.

Anatol Rapoport’s social responsibility: Science and antiwar activism; 1960–1970

A new piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “Anatol Rapoport’s social responsibility: Science and antiwar activism; 1960–1970,” by Shayne Sanscartier. Abstract:

Anatol Rapoport’s decision to leave the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor has sometimes been portrayed as an act of protest against United States involvement in the Vietnam War. However, he personally viewed this decision as an “escape from responsibility” (Rapoport, 2000, pp. 145–147). This article reviews his writings before his departure to better understand why he decided to leave. Though he came to see political organization and civil dissidence as the only effective means of opposition, his writings reveal that at one point he felt optimism about a particular form of activism rooted in his scientist role. However, as demonstrated by his debates with the “strategist” community, the limits of the antiwar teach-in movement and the results of the AAAS survey on science and values, his attempts to renegotiate the boundaries between “scientific deterrence” and “moral pacifism” seemingly struggled to overcome the constraints of professional academic discourse.

Arthur Jensen, evolutionary biology, and racism

A new piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “Arthur Jensen, evolutionary biology, and racism,” by John P. Jackson Jr. Abstract:

Arthur R. Jensen (1923–2012) defended the idea that racial differences in intelligence were biologically based. He based his ideas on what he claimed were sound population genetics and evolutionary biology. Viewing his work through the lenses of those disciplines reveals that his arguments for biological racial differences did not meet the minimum evidentiary requirements needed to show that socially defined races were genetic populations. His evidence was from 19th-century race science and the race science of the Nazi regime. His reliance on such evidence supported Jensen’s fears that the country was in danger of collapse because of dysgenic breeding by those of low intelligence. Jensen’s well-known associations with scientific racists were not incidental to his scientific work, but central because he cited their work throughout his career.

Rewriting Wundtian psychology: Luigi Credaro and the psychology in Rome

A new piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “Rewriting Wundtian psychology: Luigi Credaro and the psychology in Rome,” by Renato Foschi and Andrea Romano. Abstract:

After Rome became the capital of Italy in 1871, prestigious scientists arrived at the University of Rome. One of these scholars was the pedagogical philosopher Luigi Credaro (1860–1939). He was one of the rare Italian students of Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920) when he went to Leipzig and attended the Institute for Experimental Psychology in the academic year 1887–1888. There he also followed the pedagogical seminars and considered the usefulness of establishing sections of practical pedagogy in Italian magisterium schools, which were teacher-training institutions. In 1904, he founded in Rome the Scuola Pedagogica (Pedagogical School). Through the school, Credaro proposed the concept of a scientific pedagogy based on the application of the results of experimental sciences in the educational field. We can suppose that this approach influenced the first generation of Italian scholars interested in experimental psychology in Rome, in particular Sante De Sanctis (1862–1935) and Maria Montessori (1870–1952). The article thus considers the hypothesis of the formation of a so-called Roman school of psychology, which created in the field of pedagogy a ground on which to develop its research and applications. It should be noted that Credaro devoted himself to the potential applications of experimental psychology in the context of the modernization of the liberal states of the 20th century. Specifically, scientific pedagogy constituted a field of application and development for Roman psychology. At the end, the foundation of psychology in Rome was influenced by a particular version of the Wundtian psychology promoted by his pupil Credaro.

How did early North American clinical psychologists get their first personality test? Carl Gustav Jung, the Zurich School of Psychiatry, and the development of the “Word Association Test” (1898–1909)

A new piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “How did early North American clinical psychologists get their first personality test? Carl Gustav Jung, the Zurich School of Psychiatry, and the development of the “Word Association Test” (1898–1909),” Catriel Fierro. Abstract:

Clinical psychology emerged in the United States during the first decades of the 20th century. Although they focused on intelligence tests, starting around 1905 certain clinical psychologists pursued personality assessment through a specific, nonintellectual kind of test: the word association test as devised by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) at the Burghölzli psychiatric clinic in Zurich. The test was a key device in the professionalization of North American psychiatry and psychology during the early 20th century: from 1905 onward it was acknowledged, discussed, and applied by experimental and clinical psychologists. However, Jung’s original experiments and the development of the test itself have received only superficial or casual attention by historians of science. This article attempts to provide a critical, streamlined, and detailed account on the origin, development, and substance of the Zurich word association experiments. By drawing on heretofore overlooked primary sources, I offer a new, critical perspective on the emergence and development of Jung’s test while engaging with its main theoretical and methodological aspects. I show that the test was neither Jung’s sole creation nor did it consist of a simple, straightforward set of tasks. Contrarily, it was the result of a highly collaborative, multilayered institutionalized research program on linguistic and mental associations. The program, its data and its assumptions fueled several debates and data-driven discussions at Zurich, precluding the test from achieving a stable, standardized character. As a result, the history of Jung’s program reflects both the advances and the limitations of early 20th-century personality testing.

A portrait of the neurophysiologist as a young man: Claus, Darwin, and Sigmund Freud’s search for the testes of the eel (1875–1877)

A new piece in History of Psychology will interest AHP readers: “A portrait of the neurophysiologist as a young man: Claus, Darwin, and Sigmund Freud’s search for the testes of the eel (1875–1877),” by Perkins-McVey, M. Abstract:

In 1878, Sigmund Freud produced his first scientific publication while a medical student in Vienna, a physiological and histological analysis of Szymon Syrski’s claim to have discovered the long-sought testes of the European eel. Though he would eventually come to be known as the father of psychoanalysis, a closer look at Freud’s earliest scientific publication demonstrates that he was initially positioned on the cutting edge of neo-mechanistic physiology, and academic Darwinism. Not only was the young Freud a methodologically capable physiologist, he was conceptually grounded by the anti-Lamarckian and anti-Haeckelian Darwinism of his first mentor, Carl Claus. Scholarship on Freud’s life and ideas is copious and far-reaching, and yet the stature of his psychoanalytic legacy remains a significant barrier for reappraisals of his early foundations. By analyzing his first publication and the context in which it came to be, this article seeks to revisit the place of Darwin in Freud’s earliest scientific work.