New History of Psychology: Reputation, Politics, and Archives

The May 2013 issue of History of Psychology is now online. Included in this issue are articles on the role of reputation in academic life via a study of psychologist Kenneth James William Craik, the intersection of science and politics in communist Germany, and the work of Italian Catholic psychologist Agostino Gemelli (left). Other pieces include a discussion of Gantt charts as a means of visually depicting history and a look at the Piaget Archives in Geneva, Switzerland. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The reputation of Kenneth James William Craik,” by Alan F. Collins. The abstract reads,

Reputation is a familiar concept in everyday life and in a range of academic disciplines. There have been studies of its formation, its content, its management, its diffusion, and much else besides. This article explores the reputation of the Cambridge psychologist Kenneth Craik (1914–1945). Having examined something of Craik’s life and work and the content of his reputation, the article concentrates on the functions that Craik’s reputation has served, particularly for psychology and related disciplines. The major functions of that reputation are identified as being a legitimation and confirmation of disciplinary boundaries and discontinuities in the period shortly after World War II, an exemplification of how to be a modern scientist and of the values to embrace, a reinforcement of science as having a national dimension, an affirmation of psychology as a science that can serve national needs, and a creation of shared identities through commemoration. The article concludes that studies of reputations can illuminate the contexts in which they emerge and the values they endorse.

“Science in a communist country: The case of the XXIInd International Congress of Psychology in Leipzig (1980),” by Wolfgang Schönpflug & Gerd Lüer. The abstract reads,

The XXIInd International Congress of Psychology (ICP) in Leipzig in 1980 is a case that illustrates the mutual relationship between science and politics, specifically of the role of science in a communist state. We focus first on the situation of the discipline of psychology within the (East) German Democratic Republic (GDR). Second, we provide a detailed description of the interactions between the International Union of Psychological Science (IUPS) and the communist regime of the GDR. The Psychological Association of the GDR was commissioned by the IUPS to organize the congress. The Communist Party, being an omnipresent authority in the state, both supported and tried to manipulate the Leipzig conference for its political goals. Based on archival materials and on recent reports, we reconstruct three positions: From their ideological position, the GDR expected the conference to improve their standing in international politics and to serve as a platform for promoting communist doctrines; from a pragmatic position, the IUPS sought to guarantee free access to the conference and political neutrality of the scientific program; from a humanistic position, no support should be given to a totalitarian system accused of human rights violations. We compare the formal organization as implemented by the Communist Party for ideological purposes with the informal organizational structure, which operated toward pragmatic solutions. Finally, we discuss the compromises between the IUPS and the communist authorities.

“Italian psychology under protection: Agostino Gemelli between Catholicism and fascism,” by Renato Foschi, Anna Giannone, & Alessia Giuliani. The abstract reads,

Between the 1930s and 1940s, Agostino Gemelli (1878–1959) was the main Italian psychologist; he accepted and promoted an empirical conception of psychology influenced by neo-Thomism. The views of Gemelli were a landmark for many psychologists and psychological models in Catholic universities. Gemelli, moreover, throughout his scientific activity, continued ongoing work of expertise in matters concerning science, morality, and psychology. He was a Franciscan monk but also an officer of the Italian air force, a psychologist, and a rector. During the period of fascist rule in Italy, Gemelli sought compromise solutions to foster the survival of psychological institutions. Around his story, contrasting interpretations have emerged. The aim of this article is to look at Agostino Gemelli as an important historical subject to understand the ways in which scientific enterprises and institutions are likely to be influenced by political regimes and by the dogmatic and intolerant milieu.

“A case study in Gantt charts as historiophoty: A century of psychology at the University of Alberta,” by Michael R. W. Dawson. The abstract reads,

History is typically presented as historiography, where historians communicate via the written word. However, some historians have suggested alternative formats for communicating and thinking about historical information. One such format is known as historiophoty, which involves using a variety of visual images to represent history. The current article proposes that a particular type of graph, known as a Gantt chart, is well suited for conducting historiophoty. When used to represent history, Gantt charts provide a tremendous amount of information. Furthermore, the spatial nature of Gantt charts permits other kinds of spatial operations to be performed on them. This is illustrated with a case study of the history of a particular psychology department. The academic year 2009–2010 marked the centennial of psychology at the University of Alberta. This centennial was marked by compiling a list of its full-time faculty members for each year of its history. This historiography was converted into historiophoty by using it as the source for the creation of a Gantt chart. The current article shows how the history of psychology at the University of Alberta is revealed by examining this Gantt chart in a variety of different ways. This includes computing simple descriptive statistics from the chart, creating smaller versions of the Gantt to explore departmental demographics, and using image processing methods to provide measures of departmental stability throughout its history.

Profiles of international archives: Les archives Jean Piaget, University of Geneva, Switzerland,” by Jeremy Trevelyan Burman. The abstract reads,

This research report provides a look behind closed doors at the Jean Piaget Archives in Geneva, Switzerland. It situates the potential visitor, contextualizes the Archives in its own history, and then describes what scholars can expect to find. New details about Piaget’s views on Equal Rights and Equal Pay are also provided, including a look at how they affected the women who worked his factory (esp. Bärbel Inhelder).

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.