Tag Archives: Cold War

Centaurus Articles on Cold War Social Science, Race, and Anthropology

Karl von Baer, 1865

A number of recent articles in Centaurus may be of interest to AHP readers. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Détente Science? Transformations of Knowledge and Expertise in the 1970s,” by Rüdiger Graf. Abstract:

Scrutinizing the multifaceted relationship between the history of science and the political, economic and cultural transformations of the 1970s, while acknowledging that ‘Cold War [social] science’ has proven to be a fruitful heuristic concept, the paper asks if– in a period decreasing confrontation –there was also a ‘détente [social] science’? First, it presents a short overview of the most significant transformations of the 1970s and sketches if and to what extent developments in the realm of science influenced them or even brought them about. Secondly, the perspective will be turned around. After developing the concept of Cold War Science in greater detail, the paper asks whether the changes of the 1970s influenced the development of the natural and social sciences. In particular, it analyzes their influence on the conceptions of knowledge and expertise that have been described as constitutive elements of Cold War Science. In conclusion, it tries to assess if these changes amount to anything that might be labelled fruitfully as détente science.

“Geography, Race and the Malleability of Man: Karl von Baer and the Problem of Academic Particularism in the Russian Human Sciences,” by Nathaniel Knight. Abstract:

The question of national specificity in science was vigorously debated in 19th century Russia and remains relevant to the geographical and cultural contextualization of scholarship. This article introduces the term academic particularism to denote this phenomenon and addresses it through an examination of the career, ideas and legacy of Karl von Baer in the fields of geography, ethnology and physical anthropology. The article traces significant shifts in Baer’s interests and views after his relocation to Russia in 1835 and identifies a cluster of key ideas present in Baer’s work in the mid-19th century that were further developed by subsequent scholars in the late 19th century and came to constitute a distinctive strain in the Russian human sciences.

“‘With the Risk of Being Called Retrograde’. Racial Classifications and the Attack on the Aryan Myth by Jean-Baptiste d’Omalius d’Halloy (1783–1875),” by Maarten Couttenier. Abstract: Continue reading Centaurus Articles on Cold War Social Science, Race, and Anthropology

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Holiday Reading Round Up: Imperfect Children, Sociobiology, Rationality, Communications, & More

As 2017 comes to a close, we’ve rounded up some recent releases for your reading pleasure. And if you find yourself in Amsterdam January 9th, 2018 swing by the release of Jaap van Ginneken’s new biography of Kurt Baschwitz. Best wishes for the new year!

Kurt Baschwitz: A Pioneer of Communication Studies and Social Psychologyby Jaap van Ginneken, Amsterdam University Press. Event: January 9, 2018, 17:00-18:30 in Amsterdam. Register here.

It was a century ago, that a young Jewish-German journalist rushed overnight from Hamburg to Rotterdam, to replace a predecessor correspondent who had been arrested and accused of espionage – halfway he First World War. Baschwitz was appalled by the mass propaganda he witnessed, and began to develop a book about ‘mass delusions’ – that became an immediate bestseller upon his return. Thereafter, he became a respected journalist under the Weimar republic, rose to become the editor-in-chief of the influential weekly of newspaper publishers, later published a book about the key role of the mass press in history.

In 1933, he fled to Amsterdam, where Baschwitz was made ‘private lecturer’ at the university, worked for a confidential agency gathering information about the rise of Anti-semitism in Germany: resulting in the ‘Wiener collection’, and the current Holocaust Museum in London. As well as for the newly founded International Institute of Social History, that smuggled the archives of socialist pioneers out. He also published books on mass politics and mass persecutions.

Halfway the war and occupation, Baschwitz was arrested in a raid, sent to the notorious Westerbork transit camp, for deportation to the East and certain death. But his daughter brought him papers that got him out for the time being. He went into hiding, she joined the resistance.

After Liberation, Baschwitz was made professor, and helped found the new faculty for political and social science in Amsterdam. Within it, he built a series of key institutions: a rejuvenated press museum, a national press library and a press studies department, as well as journalist courses.

Isis, December 2017

Pax Technologica: Computers, International Affairs, and Human Reason in the Cold War,” by Joy Rohde. Abstract: Continue reading Holiday Reading Round Up: Imperfect Children, Sociobiology, Rationality, Communications, & More

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New JHBS: Ambiverts, Victimization Surveys, Radical Behaviorism in Brazil, and More

Fred Keller

The Autumn 2017 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now available. Articles in this issue explore the history of the ambivert, the emergence of victimization surveys, the influence of Fred Keller’s radical behaviorism in Brazil, and ideas about mental evolution and unconscious memory in Victorian Britain. Full details follow below.

“The ambivert: A failed attempt at a normal personality,” by Ian J. Davidson. Abstract:

Recently, attention has been drawn toward an overlooked and nearly forgotten personality type: the ambivert. This paper presents a genealogy of the ambivert, locating the various contexts it traversed in order to highlight the ways in which these places and times have interacted and changed—ultimately elucidating our current situation. Proposed by Edmund S. Conklin in 1923, the ambivert only was meant for normal persons in between the introvert and extravert extremes. Although the ambivert could have been taken up by early personality psychologists who were transitioning from the study of the abnormal to the normal, it largely failed to gain traction. Whether among psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, or applied and personality psychologists, the ambivert was personality non grata. It was only within the context of Eysenck’s integrative view of types and traits that the ambivert marginally persisted up to the present day and is now the focus of sales management and popular psychology.

“The genesis of victimization surveys and of the realist-constructionist divide,” by Matthieu de Castelbajac. Abstract: Continue reading New JHBS: Ambiverts, Victimization Surveys, Radical Behaviorism in Brazil, and More

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New in Isis: Cybernetics and Chinese Linguistics; Constructing “Gifted” Students Post-Brown v. Board

The September 2017 issue of Isis, the official journal of the History of Science Society, is now online. Two articles in this issue may be of especial interest to AHP readers: one documenting the relationship between cybernetics and modern Chinese linguists and the other exploring the construction of “gifted” and “academically talented” students in the context of efforts to desegregate schools following the landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. Full details follow below.

“From Modernizing the Chinese Language to Information Science: Chao Yuen Ren’s Route to Cybernetics,” by Chen-Pang Yeang. Abstract:

As one of the most famous Chinese intellectuals of the twentieth century, Chao Yuen Ren is known primarily for his founding of modern Chinese linguistics. This essay examines a less familiar part of his career: cybernetics. When he taught at Berkeley in 1947, he read Norbert Wiener’s book manuscript and gravitated toward the subject. His participation in the 1953 Macy Conference marked the beginning of his decades-long work that used the concepts of feedback and information to understand language in general and Chinese in particular. This essay argues that Chao’s exploration of cybernetics was influenced not only by the rise of information science in the midcentury United States but also by the movement to modernize the Chinese language two decades earlier. His phonetic research for dialect surveys, involvement in language reform, and appropriation of structuralism when he worked in China in the 1920s and 1930s shaped his cybernetic interpretations of language in the 1950s and 1960s. This article enriches the current historiography of information science, which stresses disunity and internationalism, by showing how an East Asian context affected an aspect of the early development of cybernetics. It also demonstrates the value of an immigrant scientist’s intellectual biography for studies of transnational science.

“A “Precious Minority”: Constructing the “Gifted” and “Academically Talented” Student in the Era of Brown v. Board of Education and the National Defense Education Act,” by Jim Wynter Porter. Abstract: Continue reading New in Isis: Cybernetics and Chinese Linguistics; Constructing “Gifted” Students Post-Brown v. Board

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New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

Sandor Rado

The August 2017 issue of History of Psychology is now available. Articles in this issue discuss psychoanalyst Sandor Rado’s influential views on bisexuality, American attitudes toward psychology, technology, and social engineering in the 20th century, and the difficult reception of behavior therapy in France. Full details below.

“Sandor Rado, American psychoanalysis, and the question of bisexuality,” by Tontonoz, Matthew. Abstract:

The Hungarian-born physician and psychoanalyst Sandor Rado (1890–1972), who practiced for most of his career in the United States, played a central role in shaping American psychoanalysts’ views toward homosexuality. Historians have pointed to Rado’s rejection of Freud’s notion of constitutional bisexuality as the key theoretical maneuver that both pathologized homosexuality and inspired an optimistic approach to its treatment. Yet scholarly analysis of the arguments that Rado made for his rejection of bisexuality is lacking. This article seeks to provide that analysis, by carefully reviewing and evaluating Rado’s arguments by the standards of his own day. Because one of Rado’s main arguments is that bisexuality is an outdated concept according to modern biology, I consider what contemporary biologists had to say on the topic. The work of behavioral endocrinologist Frank Beach (1911–1988) is important in this context and receives significant attention here. Rado ultimately distanced himself from Beach’s behavioral endocrinology, appealing instead to evolutionary discourse to buttress his claim that homosexuality is pathological. This tactic allowed him to refashion psychoanalysis into a moralistic discipline, one with closer ties to a medical school.

“B. F. Skinner and technology’s nation: Technocracy, social engineering, and the good life in 20th-century America,” by Rutherford, Alexandra. Abstract: Continue reading New HoP: Sandor Rado on Bisexuality, Psych and Social Engineering in 20th c. America, & Behavior Therapy in France

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Special Issue of HHS: “Social and Human Sciences across the Iron Curtain”

The  October/December 2016 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. This special issue on “Social and Human Sciences across the Iron Curtain” is guest edited by Olessia Kirtchik and Ivan Boldyrev. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“On (im)permeabilities: Social and human sciences on both sides of the ‘Iron Curtain’,” by Ivan Boldyrev and Olessia Kirtchik. The abstract reads,

While the history of Cold War social and human sciences has become an immensely productive line of inquiry and has generated some exciting research, a lot remains still to be done in studying more deeply the known stories, venturing into the unknown ones and, in particular, looking in greater detail at the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain. In our expository introduction to this special issue, we demonstrate how its articles enhance our understanding of the postwar social and human sciences. The special issue invites us to rethink the role of the local intellectual and disciplinary contexts in the postwar cultures of knowledge; to pay more attention to the networks and institutions that fostered communication across the Iron Curtain; to trace various asymmetries at work in the divided academic world and the ambiguous status of many actors who enable the East–West contacts despite the general hostility and ideological cleavages; and finally to arrive at a more differentiated and complex view of the whole intellectual landscape in the history of social and human sciences opening up once all the Cold War protagonists, including the countries of the eastern bloc, are subject to a detailed study. This project, we believe, is worthwhile not just for the sake of historical accuracy but also for understanding and changing the societies we live in, which are often still contaminated by the maladies of the Cold War.

“After Nikolai Bukharin: History of science and cultural hegemony at the threshold of the Cold War era,” by Pietro D. Omodeo. The abstract reads, Continue reading Special Issue of HHS: “Social and Human Sciences across the Iron Curtain”

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Michael Pettit on “Deflating Cold War Rationality”

In a recently published essay review in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A Michael Pettit (above) explores some of the recent work on Cold War rationality. The essay centres on a review of the volume How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality – written collaboratively by Paul Erickson, Judy L. Klein, Lorraine Daston, Rebecca Lemov, Thomas Sturm, and Michael D. Gordin – in order to explore the broader recent historiography of Cold War social science. Pettit’s argues “that by focusing rather narrowing on intellectuals in their immediate in- stitutions the recent historiography, including the book under consideration, is inadequate for accomplishing its aim of properly situating the Cold War social sciences.” The full essay review can be found(behind a paywall) here.

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3 year Post-Doctoral Fellowship with Hidden Persuaders

The Wellcome Trust funded ‘Hidden Persuaders? Brainwashing, Culture, Clinical Knowledge and the Cold War Human Sciences, c. 1950-1990’ has announced a new 3-year post-doctoral fellowship. Applications for the position are due April 13th and interviews will take place April 28th. The project, lead by historian Daniel Pick, investigates how

The reputations of the ‘psy’ professions – and the status of their ideas – were altered by controversies, myths and testimonies about ‘brainwashing’ in its various guises during the Cold War. Our project uncovers new source materials and promotes original analyses of the involvement (real and perceived) of clinicians in brainwashing and its cognate practices of interrogation, psychological warfare, subliminal advertisement, and therapeutic experimentation. We consider what ethical guidelines and safeguards, past or present, have been formulated to deal with the dangers of mind control so powerfully articulated during the Cold War.

By exploring these historical debates over mind control and their continuing legacies for psy expertise, Hidden Persuaders offers timely historical analysis of continuing present-day controversies. The language of ‘brainwashing’ continues to influence, in diverse and unexpected ways, present understanding of the relationship between the individual and the state; the nature of the therapeutic encounter between patient and psy-professional; and the borderlands between education, persuasion and indoctrination.

Full details about the post-doctoral fellowship:

The new post-doctoral fellow will work closely with the Hidden Persuaders team to produce original research, organise academic conferences and public events, and also assist with various other outputs in the form of edited volumes, film, web resources and more. The post-doc will join our growing network of historians and practitioners of psychoanalysis, psychiatry and psychology, and should focus his/her research contributions on one or more distinct strands of the Hidden Persuaders project.

We would welcome applications from academics with prior knowledge of the history of psychoanalysis, psychiatry and/or psychology. Some previous familiarity with post-war political and/or cultural history would also be an asset. A working knowledge of one or more European languages other than English, e.g., Russian, German, Spanish or French would be useful, as would facility in one or more Asian languages (Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Khmer or Malay). The ability and willingness of the appointee to travel and work for several weeks at a stretch in overseas archives (as required) is essential, as part of the post-doctoral fellow’s task will be to gather and analyse data on perceptions and use of psychological warfare and indoctrination in various Cold War campaigns overseas.

The closing date for completed applications is midnight on Wednesday 13 April 2016.

Interviews will be held on Thursday 28 April 2016.

For further information, please consult the job announcement on Birkbeck’s website.

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History of Workplace Motivation on the “Hidden Persuaders” Blog

The “Hidden Persuaders” blog recently posted a piece by Kira Lussier on the history of motivation in the workplace. In “Motivated or Manipulated? Ernest Dichter and David McClelland at Work” Lussier notes, there is

…a long history of concern with the relationship between employees’ psychological states and the success of the company, or even the economy, as a whole. Focusing on motivation raises questions about the role of psychological expertise in shaping our understanding of the self in corporate culture; and how the line between motivation and manipulation has been negotiated and challenged in the last fifty years. My dissertation research addresses these questions, focusing on the history of psychological techniques in late twentieth-century American businesses. Historians of psychology have traced the rise of psychological expertise in Cold War America, showing how psychologists framed a whole host of social concerns, from class relations to workplace morale, as psychological problems. Their accounts examine the ways that psychologists have been caught up in structures of power, particularly government and military contracts during the Cold War [2]. Many post-war psychologists turned to corporate America to market their expertise, following in a long line of business-oriented applied psychologists, starting with Hugo Munsterberg in the early twentieth century [3].

The full post can be read online here.

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History and the Hoffman Report: A Round-Up

Chances are you, like us, have been following the fall out from the American Psychological Association’s Hoffman Report, which details how the organization colluded with the United States government to ensure psychologists remained part of its torture program. While there are a ton of opinion pieces floating around in the wake of the report, we thought we’d highlight a few pieces that take a particularly historical view on the current situation.

Over on the Hidden Persuaders blog, part of a project on Cold War era brainwashing efforts, Marcia Holmes has written “What we’re reading now: The APA report.” Holmes details the events leading up to the Hoffman Report and situates psychology’s involvement in torture in relation to the emergence of “operational psychology.” The fundamental tension between “operational psychology” and ethics, Holmes argues, may never be resolved. Read the full piece online here.

BBC Radio program Witness has produced an episode on “CIA Mind Control Experiments” in the 1950s. While this piece is not directly about the Hoffman Report, it documents  the long history of relations between psychology and the CIA:

In the 1950s the CIA started attempting to brainwash psychiatric patients. They wanted to develop methods which could be used against enemies in the Cold War. Hear from one man whose father was experimented on in a Canadian psychiatric hospital.

The full 10-minute episode can be heard online here.

Finally historian Laura Stark, writing in Inside Higher Ed, explains “Why Ethics Codes Fail.” Stark, having previously written about the first ethics code adopted by the APA in 1973, argues that,

The APA’s current ethics mess is a problem inherent to its method of setting professional ethics policy and a problem that faces professional organizations more broadly. Professions’ codes of ethics are made to seem anonymous, dropped into the world by some higher moral authority. But ethics codes have authors. In the long term, the APA’s problems will not be solved by repeating the same process that empowers a select elite to write ethics policy, then removes their connection to it.

All ethics codes have authors who work to erase the appearance of their influence. Personal interests are inevitable, if not unmanageable, and it may be best for the APA — and other professional groups — to keep the link between an ethics policy and its authors. Take a new lesson from the Hippocratic oath by observing its name. The APA should make its ethics policies like most other papers that scientists write: give the code of ethics a byline.

Read the full piece online here.

If there are other historically focused responses to the Hoffman Report that we’ve missed please feel free to add them in the comments!

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