All posts by Jacy Young

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.

The face as folded object: Race and the problems with ‘progress’ in forensic DNA phenotyping

AHP readers may be interested in a new open-access article in Social Studies of Science: “The face as folded object: Race and the problems with ‘progress’ in forensic DNA phenotyping,” by Roos Hopman. Abstract:

Forensic DNA phenotyping (FDP) encompasses a set of technologies aimed at predicting phenotypic characteristics from genotypes. Advocates of FDP present it as the future of forensics, with an ultimate goal of producing complete, individualised facial composites based on DNA. With a focus on individuals and promised advances in technology comes the assumption that modern methods are steadily moving away from racial science. Yet in the quantification of physical differences, FDP builds upon some nineteenth- and twentieth-century scientific practices that measured and categorised human variation in terms of race. In this article I complicate the linear temporal approach to scientific progress by building on the notion of the folded object. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in various genetic laboratories, I show how nineteenth- and early twentieth-century anthropological measuring and data-collection practices and statistical averaging techniques are folded into the ordering of measurements of skin color data taken with a spectrophotometer, the analysis of facial shape based on computational landmarks and the collection of iris photographs. Attending to the historicity of FDP facial renderings, I bring into focus how race comes about as a consequence of temporal folds.

Simulating Marx: Herbert A. Simon’s cognitivist approach to dialectical materialism

A new article in History of the Human Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Simulating Marx: Herbert A. Simon’s cognitivist approach to dialectical materialism,” by Enrico Petracca. Abstract:

Starting in the 1950s, computer programs for simulating cognitive processes and intelligent behaviour were the hallmark of Good Old-Fashioned Artificial Intelligence and ‘cognitivist’ cognitive science. This article examines a somewhat neglected case of simulation pursued by one of the founding fathers of simulation methodology, Herbert A. Simon. In the 1970s and 1980s, Simon had repeated contacts with Marxist countries and scientists, in the context of which he advanced the idea that cognitivism could be used as a framework for simulating dialectical materialism. Simon’s idea was, in particular, to represent dialectical processes through a ‘symbolic’ version of dialectical logic. This article explores the context of Simon’s interaction with Marxist countries—China and the USSR—and also assesses the outcome of the simulation. The difficulty with simulating distinctive features of dialectical materialism is read in light of the underlying assumptions of cognitivism and, ultimately, in light of the attempt to tame a rival world view.

On the origins of the concept of ‘latent schizophrenia’ in Russian psychiatry

A new piece in History of Psychiatry may interest AHP readers: “On the origins of the concept of ‘latent schizophrenia’ in Russian psychiatry,” by Birk Engmann. Abstract:

In the mid-twentieth century in the Soviet Union, latent schizophrenia became an important concept and a matter of research and also of punitive psychiatry. This article investigates precursor concepts in early Russian psychiatry of the nineteenth century, and examines whether – as claimed in recent literature – Russian and Soviet research on latent schizophrenia was mainly influenced by the work of Eugen Bleuler.

Julian Ochorowicz’s experiments with Eusapia Palladino 1894: The temporality of mass media and the crisis of local credibility

A new article in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Julian Ochorowicz’s experiments with Eusapia Palladino 1894: The temporality of mass media and the crisis of local credibility,” Jan Surman. Abstract:

Julian Ochorowicz (1850–1917) belonged to the first generation of psychologists who regarded this discipline as a scientific, positive endeavor. At the same time, he was a representative of psychic sciences, following a strictly positivist attitude to researching psychic phenomena. This article discusses the key event of his career, experiments with the famous medium Eusapia Palladino, in Warsaw, between late 1893 and early 1894. Ochorowicz’s séances with Palladino attracted wide local and international attention and improved his standing as an internationally leading psychic researcher. In Warsaw, however, these experiments were fiercely controversial and, as a result, Ochorowicz was discredited and left the city. As I argue, this dissociation of credibilities was the outcome of a changing media landscape in the late nineteenth century. While Ochorowicz’s strategy of boundary-work and asserting his credibility aimed at scholarly media, it proved fatal when facing intensive, daily coverage in the popular press.

On psychology and the climate emergency:”Do your first works over”

A new piece forthcoming in a special issue of Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers: “Do your first works over,” by Susan James, Helene Lorenz. Abstract:

This article presents in four parts various understandings of the deep roots of the current climate emergency, some thoughts about alternative transitional paths forward, and the ways the discipline of psychology might be relevant. In Section two, we explore environmental and ontological critiques and analyses that developed in the academic world in the 1990s after the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus in the Americas. In Section three, we analyze the recent emergence of new materialisms and their connections to indigenous relational ontologies and practices in what has been called “the ontological turn” or “the decolonial turn.” In Section four, we trace the effects of coloniality in education. In Section five, we explore approaches to alternative world visions, new educational projects, the possible role of the discipline of psychology in transition discourses, and the urgency of the present moment.

The dissemination of mesmerism in Germany (1784–1815): Some patterns of the circulation of knowledge

An open-access article in the most recent issue of Centaurus will interest AHP readers: “The dissemination of mesmerism in Germany (1784–1815): Some patterns of the circulation of knowledge,” by Claire Gantet. Abstract:

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734–1815), a physician who graduated from the University of Vienna, invented a therapy based on the concept of a universal fluid, similar to electricity, that flowed through all living things. By restoring the circulation of this fluid in the nerves of human bodies, he believed he could cure illness without resorting to medication. Few medical theories have enjoyed as great success as Mesmer’s, first among French high society and then in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Britain, and the US. Mesmerism was the circulatory phenomenon par excellence. Its success was founded not only on the hypothesis of the circulation of a fluid common to human physiology and the entire universe, but also on the scientific practices of the time—correspondence, translations, and periodicals—and some ardent and highly active supporters who ensured its spread. However, far from functioning along the lines of direct exportation–importation from one country to another, or a centre to the periphery, mesmerism’s dissemination was the work of diffuse institutions and individual mobilities influenced by the modalities of communication. In seeking to reconstitute the wellsprings of these circulations, the first sources that come to mind are printed matter: the many pamphlets and especially the articles and reviews that appeared in periodicals, as well as the Romantic literature that flourished after 1810. Such documents are foundational for authoritative studies of mesmerism in Germany, which proceed from the thesis of successive “waves” of reception. Such sources, however, are somewhat misleading. Rather than taking them as our starting point, it would be better to reconstitute the channels of information by using many sources, both printed and handwritten. The complexity of the circulation of knowledge generated by mesmerism is implicitly testament to the difficulties arising from the institutionalization of this current.

The Maternalists: Psychoanalysis, Motherhood, and the British Welfare State

AHP readers will be interested in a new book by Shaul Bar-Haim: The Maternalists: Psychoanalysis, Motherhood, and the British Welfare State. The book is described as follows:

The Maternalists is a study of the hitherto unexplored significance of utopian visions of the state as a maternal entity in mid-twentieth century Britain. Demonstrating the affinities between welfarism, maternalism, and psychoanalysis, Shaul Bar-Haim suggests a new reading of the British welfare state as a political project.

After the First World War, British doctors, social thinkers, educators, and policy makers became increasingly interested in the contemporary turn being made in psychoanalytic theory toward the role of motherhood in child development. These public figures used new notions of the “maternal” to criticize modern European culture, and especially its patriarchal domestic structure. This strand of thought was pioneered by figures who were well placed to disseminate their ideas into the higher echelons of British culture, education, and medical care. Figures such as the anthropologists Bronislaw Malinowski and Geza Róheim, and the psychiatrist Ian Suttie—to mention only a few of the “maternalists” discussed in the book—used psychoanalytic vocabulary to promote both imagined perceptions of motherhood and their idea of the “real” essence of the “maternal.” In the 1930s, as European fascism took hold, the “maternal” became a cultural discourse of both collective social anxieties and fantasies, as well as a central concept in many strands of radical, and even utopian, political thinking. During the Second World War, and even more so in the postwar era, psychoanalysts such as D. W. Winnicott and Michael Balint responded to the horrors of the war by drawing on interwar maternalistic thought, making a demand to “maternalize” British society, and providing postwar Britain with a new political idiom for defining the welfare state as a project of collective care.

Technoscientific control of nature: The ultimate paradox

A new piece forthcoming as part of a special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will be of interest to AHP readers: “Technoscientific control of nature: The ultimate paradox,” by Martin Fichman. Abstract:

The current interlinked environmental and socioeconomic global crises constitute the gravest threat to humanity’s well-being, indeed survival, today. Studies of the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of the various elements of these crises—including accelerating environmental degradation, unfettered capitalist technoscientific/industrial expansion, overpopulation, and overconsumption—are plentiful. Also well-known is the influence of Francis Bacon’s writings, particularly The Advancement of Learning (1605), Novum Organon (1620), and the utopian New Atlantis (1627), on the development of empiricism and the modern scientific method as well as the reform and organization of scientific research. Bacon’s significance for the founding of the Royal Society of London (1660) and for the plan and structure of the Encyclopedie (1751–1772), coupled with his oft-cited aphoristic injunctions to study nature to control/dominate it, are staples in the lore and justification of technoscience. I argue that the enduring appeal of so-called Baconianism derives, in part, from a fundamental misappropriation of certain of Bacon’s original ideas. Specifically, the complex ethical and religious framework within which Bacon situated his vision of scientific and technological development was discarded (or ignored) so that, by the early decades of the 18th century, Baconianism had come to be understood almost exclusively for its utilitarian role in society. This deracinated version became the familiar trope of technoscience’s unlimited potential to transform nature (including human nature and behavior) in the service of an ideology of industrial/consumerist expansion since then. Linkage between the history of science/technology and addictive consumerism, apparent by the close of the 19th century, has been insufficiently examined. Such addictive consumerist behavior and continued virtually unregulated industrialization and production, were effectively removed from ethical scrutiny and a high degree of material acquisition and personal/societal rapaciousness became the norm rather than the exception in most countries. I suggest that further historical deconstruction of this denuded Baconianism will yield important insights in the search for viable solutions to the present global socioenvironmental crises.

Expelled from Eden: How human beings turned planet Earth into a hostile place

A new piece forthcoming as part of a special issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will be of interest to AHP readers: “Expelled from Eden: How human beings turned planet Earth into a hostile place,” by Ana Luiza de França Sá and Victor Lino Bernardes. Abstract:

The focus of this article is the mind–body problem in mainstream modern psychology examined from a decolonial perspective. The construction of the idea of the separation of mind and body is a seminal point of division of labor in the history of modern capitalism. This division perpetuated by the mind–body dualism idea was necessary to justify the enslavement of some and employment to others. Colonization processes have had profound importance on the mind, feelings, behaviors, and political settings. Throughout its history, the subject treated in EuroAmerican psychology has sought to deal with the mind–body problem as an individual, a separate entity, not as part of the psyche as a whole. A new perspective where the mind and body play an intertwined role is necessary considering subjectivity in a cultural-historical approach. The subjective level is defined by the unification between symbolical and emotional cultural processes. The body (emotions) operates in conjunction with the culture and, when amalgamated, constitutes what we entitle as subjectivity. An ontology defines the assumptions that lie under a cosmovision and sustains a way of seeing, feeling, thinking, and acting with oneself, others, and the whole living world. It is what defines the real. The trajectory of this paper is an invitation to shed light from a decolonial perspective on social inequality concerning the present crises of humanity. The consequences of social inequality expressed today indicate the difficulties created by the dichotomy of mind and body.

Call for Papers: Special Issue on Media Histories of Care

A call for papers for a special issue of Feminist Media Histories dedicated Media Histories of Care will be of interest to AHP readers. Full details below.

Special Issue on Media Histories of Care

Guest Editors: Olivia Banner & Hannah Zeavin

COVID-19 has forced medicine and psychiatry onto tele-platforms, a shift some claim will be permanent. For the technology industries, this is a welcome acceleration of health care’s digitalization. For care workers and their patients, this shift away from environments of inperson care to the screen interface may be less welcome. At the same time, disability activists are highlighting that after decades of being told remote access to care was impossible, those barriers have diminished—but for how long? By reconfiguring social and temporal relations, everyday media technologies encourage new dynamics among doctors, patients, activists, medical institutions, and care collectives. What does feminist media studies, with its rich histories of heightened attunement to mediated bodies, mediated care, and media of care have to contribute to this shift?

Noting these contemporary reconfigurations, this special issue takes as its cue media studies work that has established how medicine, psychiatry, and associated clinical disciplines have always been mediated and technological. Building on work in cinema studies (Kirsten Ostherr; Lisa Cartwright), science and technology studies (Kim Tallbear; Hannah Landecker), media studies (David Serlin; Cait McKinney; Jonathan Sterne), critical health studies (Jonathan Metzl; Helena Hansen; Laura Mauldin), Black studies (Moya Bailey & Whitney Peoples), queer studies (Ann Cvetkovich; Douglas Crimp) and crip studies (Leon Hilton; Aimi Hamraie), this Special Issue seeks new ways of theorizing, analyzing, countering, and, perhaps, cripping the histories of mediated technologies of care.

We invite papers from across a range of disciplines that address screen media, media technologies, digital care, medical knowledge, and health activism. Although we welcome work on established medicine and health care, we are particularly interested in feminist histories of media practices, media objects, and activist efforts that have taken digital and screen media as mechanisms for contesting and negotiating power and authority over care. Drawing from disability studies and crip theory, trans and queer theory, feminist studies, and critical race studies, we welcome papers that focus on “informal networks of care,” on processes and peoples which institutional perspectives might demote but which for us are the real spaces of emergence and innovation.

Possible topics may include: the activist histories of mutual aid networks and care organizations; big data and its histories; cinema and psychiatry; mediations of deinstitutionalization; medical racism and surveillance; and digital health/telemedicine/teletherapy, among others. We are especially interested in receiving proposals for papers that focus on the global south or transnational histories, but welcome papers focusing on any geographical area and time period.

Interested contributors should contact guest editors Olivia Banner and Hannah Zeavin directly, sending a 500-word proposal and a short bio no later than October 15, 2021 to and Contributors will be notified by November 15, 2021; article drafts will be due by March 15, 2022 and will then be sent out for peer review. Feminist Media Histories is a peer-reviewed scholarly journal devoted to feminist histories of film, video, audio, and digital technologies across a range of time periods and global contexts. Inter-medial and trans-national in approach, Feminist Media Histories examines the historical role gender has played in varied media technologies, and documents women’s engagement with these media as audiences and users, creators and executives, critics and theorists, technicians and laborers, educators and activists.