Human Arenas: Reappraising Wundt

AHP readers may be interested in a special series of articles on Wilhelm Wundt in the March 2021 issue of Human Arenas. Full details below.

“Remembering Wilhelm Wundt and the Second Leipzig School of Psychology,” Rainer Diriwächter. Abstract:

It has been 100 years since Wilhelm Wundt, our founding father of modern psychology, has passed away. In this present contribution to the journal Human Arenas special topic section marking this centennial milestone, I will be re-visiting some of the theoretical highlights coming out of the first and second Leipzig School of Psychology. Particular focus is given to Wundt’s examination of human consciousness, his emotional-will theory, creative synthesis, and especially the new direction implemented by his successors after his retirement in 1917. That is, the shift from a focus on elementary processes resulting in a creative synthesis to the developmental holistic outlook of Genetic Ganzheitspsychologie that takes holistic complexes and their transformations as the starting point for psychological examinations.

“The Importance of Leibniz for Wundt,” Sven Hroar Klempe. Abstract:

Late in his life, Wundt published a book on Leibniz, 200 years after Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz died in 1716. In this book, he states a long-lasting interest in Leibniz. He grasped the opportunity to summarize this interest as a part of the memorial in 1916. A closer reading of this book, however, is not just a celebration speech of Leibniz. It is a highly personal confession of the importance of Leibniz’s intellectual activities as a forerunner to some fundamentals for Wundt’s experimental and folk psychology. Yet, by drawing the line back to Leibniz, Wundt also indirectly sketches and includes those intermediate scholars that contributed with continuing the historical line between them. In this paper, Wundt’s reading of Leibniz is examined. One of the striking aspects of his reading is that he is not so interested in Leibniz’s philosophy, as he is of his mathematical thinking. Leibniz’s discovery of differential calculus, the aspect of dynamics in physics and his critic of the mechanistic understanding of causality are probably some of the most important changes that paved the way for modernity and the modern thinking. Wundt makes an indirect connection between those discoveries and the forthcoming psychology. However, Leibniz did not apply the term “psychology”, but Wundt did not hesitate to regard aspects of Leibniz’s authorship as contributions to psychology. The use of the term related to Leibniz is justified by the fact that the one who systematized Leibniz’s philosophy was his student Christian Wolff. This was also the same person to be the first one in the history to include and apply the term psychology as a core aspect of philosophy. The reaction Kant had on this is well known. Thus, this paper will concentrate on the link between Wundt and Leibniz to shed some light on the upcoming use of the term psychology on its way to achieve the status as an experimental science at the end of the nineteenth century.

“How Psychology Repressed Its Founding Father Wilhelm Wundt,” Gordana Jovanovi?. Abstract:

The aim of this paper is to shed light on the misrepresented and repressed agenda of Wundt’s psychology—and to pay an overdue tribute to Wundt. Wundt will be analyzed within the history of psychology, i.e., how his views on psychology are represented in textbooks on the history of psychology (Boring, Fancher, Heidbreder, Woodworth and Sheehan) in comparison with his views as expressed in his published works. In the next step, the first attempts to question the traditional historiographic accounts of Wundt will be examined (Blumenthal, Danziger, Greenwood, Woodward). The textual analysis will be embedded in a broader cultural context in order to understand sources of different forms of epistemic injustices committed against Wundt (repression of his ideas, misrecognition, partial reception, even conversion into the opposite of his own views). At the end, some general hermeneutic questions on conditions of understanding and misunderstandings of human subjects and their symbolic products will be addressed, accompanied by a moral appeal to contribute to an academic culture of a just remembrance.

“Debating Experimental Psychology’s Frontiers: Re-discovering Wilhelm Wundt’s Contribution to Contemporary Psychological Research,” Natalie Rodax & Gerhard Benetka. Abstract:

Can the contemporary academic discipline of psychology, strongly relying on experiment as ideal way of psychological research, learn from Wilhelm Wundt’s strictly limited methodical understanding of the psychological experiment? Addressing this question, I firstly draw on Wundt’s early proposal of his research programme of experimental self-observation and then proceed with his methodical argument against the Würzburg school’s application of introspection on complex psychological phenomena. Centrally, Wundt aimed at showing the unprofessionalism of the Würzburg school’s introspective approach. Holzkamp’s early analysis suggested that this strong focus on showing the “wrongness” of introspective methods will in the long-term block addressing the more important underlying question regarding psychology’s research object(s)—what can and should be accessed by introspection? Against the backdrop of cultural theoretical approaches, this seems confirmed for today’s academic landscape of psychology: These approaches namely point to the fact that is exactly the relation between the researcher, the research subject and the research object that is still undetermined in answering this question. Beyond Wundt’s methodical approach that strongly limited the experiment’s scope to the objectifiable “simple” mental phenomena—and with it reducing the introspective encounter of the researcher and the research subject to a minimum—today, experimental, quantitative approaches encompass a much broader field of application, frequently working with self-reporting questionnaires that do not address the topic of introspection at all anymore. I therefore point to the fact that Wundt’s objection against the Würzburg’s school’s research practice is more topical than ever: The question of a person’s relatedness with the (cultural) world seems to also demand that researcher understand psychological data that were quantified by questionnaire also as dialogical and not per se as a purely objectified third-person perspective on complex psychological phenomena.

“A Case for a Philosophical History of Psychology: An Interview with Saulo de Freitas Araujo at the Centenary of the Death of Wilhelm Wundt (1832–1920),” Catriel Fierro & Saulo de Freitas Araujo. Abstract:

On the occasion of the centenary of Wilhelm Wundt’s death (1832–1920), we had a conversation with Saulo de Freitas Araujo on the works and influence of the German author. After a brief introduction, the conversation begins with a reflection on the aims and objectives of Araujo’s work on the history and philosophy of Wundt’s psychology. A philosophical approach to the history of science and of psychology is then described. After considering the social and intellectual context of the revival of Wundt scholarship during the 1970s, Wundt’s philosophical and psychological project is discussed. The conversation ends with general reflections on Wundt’s legacy to recent and contemporary psychology.

How Canada’s first psychology department arose at McGill University

A new piece in Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne by Jennifer Bazar and Christopher Green will interest AHP readers: “How Canada’s first psychology department arose at McGill University.” Abstract:

Canada’s first official department of psychology came into existence at Montréal’s McGill University in 1924. First chartered more than a century before, in 1821, McGill started teaching courses in “psychology” as early as 1871. Although McGill contributed two very early members to the American Psychological Association—John C. Murray and T. Wesley Mills—it was not until 1910 that it housed an experimental psychology laboratory, in the Department of Philosophy, opened by William D. Tait. Tait and two philosophers, William Caldwell and J. W. A. Hickson, worked contentiously side-by-side until the administration agreed, in 1924, to an autonomous Department of Psychology under Tait’s leadership. Although the University of Toronto had founded a psychology laboratory two decades earlier than McGill had, the Montréal school founded a Department of Psychology, the first in Canada, more than two years before Toronto did. This article investigates the dynamics—intellectual, political, and personal—that led McGill to establish the first psychology department, as well as its early development, prior to the arrival of Donald Hebb. As is often the case with institutional change, the decision to separate psychology from philosophy was driven as much by the administration’s desire to resolve long-standing fractious personal relations among the faculty as it was by any intellectual or disciplinary issues.

Recomposing persons: Scavenging and storytelling in a birth cohort archive

A forthcoming open-access piece in History of the Human Sciences may interest AHP readers, “Recomposing persons: Scavenging and storytelling in a birth cohort archive” by Penny Tinkler, Resto Cruz, Laura Fenton. Abstract:

Birth cohort studies can be used not only to generate population-level quantitative data, but also to recompose persons. The crux is how we understand data and persons. Recomposition entails scavenging for various (including unrecognised) data. It foregrounds the perspective and subjectivity of survey participants, but without forgetting the partiality and incompleteness of the accounts that it may generate. Although interested in the singularity of individuals, it attends to the historical and relational embeddedness of personhood. It examines the multiple and complex temporalities that suffuse people’s lives, hence departing from linear notions of the life course. It implies involvement, as well as reflexivity, on the part of researchers. It embraces the heterogeneity and transformations over time of scientific archives and the interpretive possibilities, as well as incompleteness, of birth cohort studies data. Interested in the unfolding of lives over time, it also shines light on meaningful biographical moments.

Symposium: Film, Observation and the Mind

AHP readers may be interested in an online symposium on Film, Observation and the Mind taking place March 19th 2021 9:45-4:30 GMT. Full information on the event, including a online registration and full abstract for papers can be found here. Details below.

A symposium on the history of scientific and educational film in the ‘neuro’ and ‘psy’ disciplines.

Symposium organisers: Dr Bonnie Evans & Professor Janet Harbord

The history of ‘neuro’ and ‘psy’ disciplines has often been told with a focus on written materials including case studies and publications. Yet, the advent of cinema brought with it new techniques and methods through which to observe and study the workings of the mind via bodily gestures and behaviour. This one-day symposium will consider the significance of film to the establishment and development of neurology, psychology, psychoanalysis, psychiatry and related disciplines. It will focus on how film observational techniques were employed to validate scientific knowledge and how literary and artistic representations of the self-influenced new scientific models from the late-19th century.

The symposium aims to bring together historians of science and film studies scholars to think critically about new ways to approach the history of scientific and educational film in the ‘neuro’ and ‘psy’ disciplines. It creates a forum to consider a number of questions. How were the techniques of early cinema used to create new ways to approach individual case studies? How did film inform statistical analyses? What role did film play in the distinction between atypical and typical states of mind and how were claims of atypicality justified? How did child observational films influence theories of developmental psychology and typical and atypical child development? Conversely, how were films used to challenge and question scientific narratives via approaches influenced by anti-psychiatry and neurodiversity movements. The symposium will be held over one day with the aim of papers leading to an edited volume or journal special issue.

Confirmed speakers: Professor Des O’Rawe (Queen’s University Belfast), Professor Janet Harbord (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Kim Hajek (LSE), Dr Mathias Winter (Ecole Normale supérieure de Lyon), Dr Bonnie Evans (Queen Mary, University of London), Katie Joice (Birkbeck), Dr Felix Rietmann (University of Fribourg).

Presenters will speak for twenty minutes each followed by twenty minutes of questions and discussion. For more information, please contact Dr Bonnie Evans (


9:45-10:00: Welcome from Janet Harbord (Autism through Cinema)

10:00-11:00: Case Studies: Texts, Observations and Early Film

  • Bonnie Evans: Cinema, the Body and the Mind in its Inception
  • Kim Hajek: ‘She speaks correctly today’: Observations of States of ‘Personality’, 1870–1910

11:00: Break

11:30-12.30: Microanalysis and the Use of Film

  • Katie Joice: Mothering in the Frame: Cinematic Microanalysis and the Pathogenic Mother 1945-67
  • Felix Rietmann: Narrating Infant Experiences: Video-based Microanalysis as a Clinical Tool

12:30-13:30: Lunch

13:30-14:30: Psychoanalysis and Film as Pedagogic Tool

  • Film extracts from Fernand Deligny’s Le Moindre Geste (1971) and François Truffaut’s The Wild Child (1970)
  • Mathias Winter: Psychoanalysis, pedagogy, and cinema: François Truffaut’s The Wild Child and the French history of autism

14:30: Break

15:00-16:00: Observational Styles of Filmmaking

  • Janet Harbord: Filming in clinical settings: negotiating film grammar (1950-1969)
  • Des O’Rawe: Alternative Treatments: Documentary Film and the End of the Asylum

16:00-16:30: Concluding remarks

Feb 2021 HoP, Special Spotlight Section: Mental Health in Historical Context

The February 2021 issue of History of Psychology is now available. The issue includes a Special Spotlight Section on “Mental Health in Historical Context.” Full details below.

Special Spotlight Section: Mental Health in Historical Context

Graiver, I. (2021). A historical perspective on mental health: Proposal for a dialogue between history and psychology. History of Psychology, 24(1), 1–12. Abstract:

This contribution aims to promote a dialogue between history and psychology by outlining a direction for future research at the intersection of these disciplines. In particular, it seeks to demonstrate the potential contributions of history to psychology by employing the category of mental health in a historical context. The analysis focuses on notions of psychological health that were developed in late antiquity, especially the equation between “health of the soul” and dispassion (apatheia) within the Christian monastic movement. This theologically informed notion of what constitutes positive human functioning and well-being is examined in view of modern attempts, in mainstream and positive psychology, to define mental health. The optimism concerning the naturalness of virtue and the malleability of human nature that underlies late antique notions of “health of the soul” becomes noticeable in its absence once we turn to modern notions of mental health. It thus provides an illuminating counter-example against which to compare and analyze modern attempts to define mental health. A comparison of these alternative notions human flourishing offers an opportunity to reflect on and test the validity of contemporary attempts to define this condition in a culturally sensitive manner.

Lampe, K. (2021). Mental health and transcendence in antiquity and today: Comment on Graiver (2021). History of Psychology, 24(1), 13–16. Abstract:

I am sympathetic to Inbar Graiver’s (see record 2021-21903-001) claim that modern Western psychology can benefit from a dialogue with history and would emphasize that her article points toward two distinct ways this is so: first, on the basis of historiographical representations of individual experience; second, on the basis of the history of concepts. I also accept her generalization that modern psychology and psychiatry have often focused on pathology and that among the key reasons for this is the biomedical assumption that “an organism is healthy to the extent that it is not diseased” (pp. 7–8). (I am more diffident about the degree to which Freudian psychoanalysis remains responsible for this today. ) Insofar as Western psychologists do attempt to theorize a universal model of “mental health,” Graiver rightly highlights the danger they will not perceive their own culturally specific presuppositions. Though I am no expert in Christian monastic hagiography or theorizations of “the health of the soul,” I am sure both can contribute to illuminating some of these presuppositions. This article also raises many questions for me. For the sake of brevity, I will address only two of them. The first concerns the general conceptualization of “mental health,” whereas the second focuses on the roles of relationality and transcendence in mental health.

Ustinova, Y. (2021). Mental well-being in ancient Greece: Comment on Graiver (2021). History of Psychology, 24(1), 17–21. Abstract:

In her thought-provoking article, Graiver (see record 2021-21903-001) argues that many early Christian monks achieved sustained psychological health, perceived as joyful serenity by their contemporaries, and admired within their milieu and the society at large. This state was attained by means of dispassion (apatheia) and culminated in spiritual enlightenment. In the author’s opinion, conclusions of this historical research call for a reassessment of modern attitudes to psychological health that can be construed only “in a culturally sensitive manner” (p. 1). In my opinion, limitation of the evidence on mental health in Ancient Greece to medical authors only is hardly justified. The word psuchê is virtually ignored by Greek medical authors. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved)

Rotman, Y. (2021). Moral psychopathology and mental health: Modern and ancient. History of Psychology, 24(1), 22–33. Abstract:

Following three turning points in the historical development of psychology this study examines how the relation between mental health and the state of illness is linked to the concept of “passions.” The first was the birth of modern psychiatry in 18th century France. The second was the development of the field of inquiry in antiquity about the psuch? and its mental activities, and the third was the turn of early Christian thought about mind and soul. A comparison between early modern and ancient concepts of “the passions” reveals the moral and ethical aspects of the concept “mental health,” and shows that more than for any other kind of illness, the history of mental illness and mental health is embedded within a moralistic philosophical perspective. Pathology as a field of study of “the passions,” whatever their definition was, enabled thinkers to refer to mental illness and health in moral terms. Although “passions” meant different things to different authors in different times, it was used by all as means to link between inner mental activities and the way the body react to the outside world. We can see it as an obligatory element to conceptualize illness, disorder, and health in regards to mental activities. Pagan ancient authors as well as early Christian authors used it to construct new theories and praxes about mental health, while early modern psychiatrists used it to develop corporeal methods of cure. In all currents of thought the concept of “passions” and the definition of the ways in which they affected the mind were used to distinguish mental illness and mental health from any other type of illness and health.

Regular Articles

Bandrés, J. (2021). Neo-Catholics against new psychology in 19th century Spain: The journal La Ciencia Cristiana (1877–1887). History of Psychology, 24(1), 34–54. Abstract:

In the 1870s, Krausists and Catholics struggled for hegemony in Spanish educational institutions. In the midst of the fray, a group of neo-Kantian intellectuals, led by José del Perojo, set out to renew psychology in Spain by introducing Wundt’s physiological psychology and Darwinian evolutionism. Neither Catholics nor Krausists welcomed the proposal. In the case of Catholics, the fundamentalist group led by professor of metaphysics Juan Manuel Ortí y Lara founded the journal La Ciencia Cristiana [Christian Science] to counter the neo-Kantian and Darwinian influences. In this article, I present a selection of texts from the journal to show how the editors tried to discredit the foundations of physiological psychology and evolutionism, as well as to promote a scholastic philosophy based on the literal interpretation of the texts of Saint Thomas Aquinas. Finally, I suggest that the identification of Catholic philosophy with fundamentalist scholasticism delayed the development of neo-scholastic psychology in Spain.

Shapira, M. (2021). A case for a “middle-way career” in the history of psychology: The work of pioneering psychoanalyst Marjorie Brierley in early 20th century Britain. History of Psychology, 24(1), 55–76. Abstract:

Historians often focus on the most famous or radical, prolific theoreticians among psychoanalysts, thereby at times reproducing the self-centered biases of their subjects rather than providing a useful critique. I offer instead a revisionist view of this history of psychology, arguing that we should pay more attention to a variety of middle-way actors who combined diverse forms of often-dismissed labor that included practice, editorial, and administrative work, and who tried to find a less rigid theoretical middle ground to toil. These middle-way actors were often women and although scholars have commented on the prominence of women in the early societies of psychoanalysis, we have not conducted adequate research on all these early active members and their roles. This article presents an example of such an actor, Marjorie Brierley (1893–1984), one of the first women psychoanalysts in Britain who made unique, yet unresearched, varied contributions—intellectual and non-intellectual—to the famous interwar debate on femininity and to organizational and clinical work. If we are to fully understand the establishment, cultivation, and maintenance of the flourishing field of psychoanalysis in the early 20th century, we must account for the work of women like her.

Lišková, K., & Szegedi, G. (2021). Sex and gender norms in marriage: Comparing expert advice in socialist Czechoslovakia and Hungary between the 1950s and 1980s. History of Psychology, 24(1), 77–99. Abstract:

First, we argue that sexuality was central to socialist modernization: Sex and gender were reformulated whenever the socialist project was being revised. Expertise was crucial in these reformulations, which harnessed people’s support for the changing regimes. Moreover, the role of the expert in society grew over time, leading to ever expanding and diversified fields of expertise. Second, gender and sexuality stood disjointed in these changes. Whereas in the early 1950s sex was a taboo subject in Hungary, in the last three decades of socialism it was gradually acknowledged and emancipated, along with a discursive push to alter gender roles within marriage. Conversely, Czechoslovak experts paid close attention to sexuality and particularly to female pleasure from the outset of the regime, highlighting the benefits of gender equality for conjugal satisfaction; yet, they changed course with Normalization (1969–1989) when they embraced gender hierarchy as the structure for a good marriage and a fulfilling sex life. It follows that gender and sexuality can develop independently: Change in one is not necessarily bound to similar progress in the other. Thus, third, whereas there was a shared initial push for gender equality, there was no unified socialist drive for the liberalization of sexuality.

Psychologies in Revolution: Alexander Luria’s ‘Romantic Science’ and Soviet Social History

AHP readers will be interested in a recently released book Psychologies in Revolution: Alexander Luria’s ‘Romantic Science’ and Soviet Social History by Hannah Proctor. The book is described as follows.

This book situates the work of the Soviet psychologist and neurologist Alexander Luria (1902-1977) in its historical context and explores the ‘romantic’ approach to scientific writing developed in his case histories. Luria consistently asserted that human consciousness was formed by cultural and historical experience. He described psychology as the ‘science of social history’ and his ideas about subjectivity, cognition and mental health have a history of their own. Lines of mutual influence existed between Luria and his colleagues on the other side of the iron curtain, but Psychologies in Revolution also discusses Luria’s research in relation to Soviet history – from the October Revolution of 1917 through the collectivisation of agriculture and Stalinist purges of the 1930s to the Second World War and, finally, the relative stability of the Brezhnev era – foregrounding the often marginalised people with whom Luria’s clinical work brought him into contact. By historicising science and by focusing on a theoretical approach which itself emphasised the centrality of social and political factors for understanding human subjectivity, the book also seeks to contribute to current debates in the medical humanities.

The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy by Hannah Zeavin

AHP readers will be interested in a forthcoming book now available for pre-order. The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy by Hannah Zeavin is described as follows:

Therapy has long understood itself as taking place in a room, with two (or sometimes more) people engaged in person-to-person conversation. And yet, starting with Freud’s treatments by mail, psychotherapy has operated through multiple communication technologies and media. These have included advice columns, radio broadcasts, crisis hotlines, video, personal computers, and mobile phones; the therapists (broadly defined) can be professional or untrained, strangers or chatbots. In The Distance Cure, Hannah Zeavin proposes a reconfiguration of the traditional therapeutic dyad of therapist and patient as a therapeutic triad: therapist, patient, and communication technology.

Zeavin tracks the history of teletherapy (understood as a therapeutic interaction over distance) and its metamorphosis from a model of cure to one of contingent help, describing its initial use in ongoing care, its role in crisis intervention and symptom management, and our pandemic-mandated reliance on regular Zoom sessions. Her account of the “distanced intimacy” of the therapeutic relationship offers a powerful rejoinder to the notion that contact across distance (or screens) is automatically lesser, or useless, to the person seeking therapeutic treatment or connection. At the same time, these modes of care can quickly become a backdoor for surveillance and disrupt ethical standards important to the therapeutic relationship. The history of the conventional therapeutic scenario cannot be told in isolation from its shadow form, teletherapy. Therapy, Zeavin tells us, was never just a “talking cure”; it has always been a communication cure.

“Never sacrifice anything to laboratory work”: The “physiological psychology” of Charles Richet (1875–1905)

A new piece in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences will interest AHP readers. ““Never sacrifice anything to laboratory work”: The “physiological psychology” of Charles Richet (1875–1905),” by Renaud Evrard, Stéphane Gumpper, Bevis Beauvais, and Carlos S. Alvarado. Abstract:

Whilst best known as a Nobel laureate physiologist, Charles Robert Richet (1850–1935) was also a pioneer of scientific psychology. Starting in 1875 Richet had a leading role in the habilitation of hypnosis, in the institutionalization of psychology in France, and in the introduction of methodological innovations. Authoring several psychology books, Richet’s works contributed to the recognition of the scientific nature of the discipline. This role is often underplayed by some historians and psychology textbooks in favor of his later position as a proponent of the controversial discipline he christened metapsychics in 1905, which today lies within the province of parapsychology. In this article, we show how his psychological approach guided by physiology, or physiological psychology, facilitated the reception of psychology. We hypothesize a strong continuity between his physiological psychology and his metapsychics, as he himself considered metapsychics as an advanced branch of physiology, and thus also an outpost of psychology.

Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care

A recently self-published book by Jack Martin – who taught history and theory of psychology at Simon Fraser University for many years – may interest AHP readers. Hometown Asylum: A History and Memoir of Institutional Care is described as follows:

Starting in 1911, and for many years, the Alberta Hospital Ponoka, or AHP, was the largest and highest-population psychiatric institution in the Western Canadian Province of Alberta. It was also located on the outskirts of Jack Martin’s hometown, and his father was employed there, which means that its story and Martin’s intersect in varied and interesting ways.

In Hometown Asylum, Martin explores the Hospital’s history, along with some of his own. In this journey, Martin considers past and contemporary issues in mental health services and treatments from the perspectives of those receiving them, those attempting to provide them, and the citizens whose attitudes and tax dollars inevitably guide and contribute to these efforts.

In telling the history of the Alberta Hospital Ponoka, this book describes a wide and varied range of treatments for those suffering mental disorders, and examines how societies, past and present, have responded to the challenges of caring for them. As a part of this, Martin raises questions about the nature of mental illness, the efficacy and ethics of treatments offered, the rights of the mentally ill, and the obligations and manner of their care.

Special Issue: Going Public: Mobilizing, Materializing, and Contesting Social Science History

AHP readers will be interested in a recently released special issue “Going Public: Mobilizing, Materializing, and Contesting Social Science History” in the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Full details below.

Introduction: “Going public: Mobilizing, materializing, and contesting social science history,” Alexandra Rutherford. No Abstract.

“Elements of a counter-exhibition: Excavating and countering a Canadian history and legacy of eugenics,” Evadne Kelly, Dolleen Tisawii’ashii Manning, Seika Boye, Carla Rice, Dawn Owen, Sky Stonefish, and Mona Stonefish. Abstract:

Into the Light, a recently mounted collectively curated museum exhibition, exposed and countered histories and legacies of 20th?century “race betterment” pedagogies taught in Ontario’s postsecondary institutions that targeted some groups of people, including Anishinaabe, Black, and other racialized populations, and disabled and poor people, with dehumanizing ideas and practices. This article advances understandings of the transformative potential of centralizing marginalized stories in accessible and creative ways to disrupt, counter, and draw critical attention to the brutal impacts of oppressive knowledge. The “counter?exhibition” prioritized stories of groups unevenly targeted by such oppression to contest and defy singular narratives circulating in institutional knowledge systems of what it means to be human. The authors draw on feminist, decolonial and disability scholarship to analyze the exhibition’s curation for the ways it collectively and creatively: (1) brought the past to the present through materializing history and memory in ways that challenged archival silences; and (2) engaged community collaboration using accessible, multisensory, multimedia storytelling to “speak the hard truths of colonialism” (Lonetree) while constructing a new methodology for curating disability and access (Cachia). The authors show how the exhibition used several elements, including counter?stories, to end legacies of colonial eugenic violence and to proliferate accounts that build solidarity across differences implicated in and impacted by uneven power (Gaztambide?Fernández).

“Social protest photography and public history: “Whose streets? Our streets!”: New York City, 1980–2000,” Tamar W. Carroll. Abstract:

“Whose streets? Our streets!,” a traveling exhibition that debuted at the Bronx Documentary Center in January 2017, brings together the work of 37 independent photographers who covered protests in New York City between 1980 and 2000. Collectively, they chronicle social justice struggles related to race relations and police brutality; war and the environment; HIV/AIDS and queer activism; abortion rights, feminism, and the culture wars; and housing, education, and labor. The exhibition and companion multimedia website demonstrate the role that photographers, activists, and ordinary people play in enacting democratic social change. They also highlight social protest photography as an important source for doing public history.

“Guns, germs, and public history: A conversation with Jennifer Tucker,” David Serlin. Abstract:

In this wide?ranging conversation, historians David Serlin (UC San Diego) and Jennifer Tucker (Wesleyan University) discuss the role of material culture and visual media in shaping how museums communicate histories of science and technology. Tucker describes recent a public history project focused on 19th?century histories of firearms and gun regulation in light of contemporary debates about the Second Amendment “right to bear arms.” Serlin and Tucker conclude by speculating about possible curatorial directions for a future public history exhibit focused on the social and cultural impact of the COVID?19 pandemic during 2020.

“Doing history that matters: Going public and activating voices as a form of historical activism,” Erika Dyck. Abstract:

For many of us academics, doing community?engaged research means coming to terms with the significant gaps in experience, privilege, and power, and overall access to knowledge. We are trained to learn through texts, not through direct experience. In some ways, we are even conditioned to tune out experience, or anecdote, to dilute personal subjectivities in favor of a critical analysis informed by a combination of methods and sources, and a reliance on text?based forms of evidence. Whereas for most community members, evidence is experiential. This dynamic also underscores the tremendous power and responsibility we have as historians to shape identities and legacies through the stories we tell. In the end, I believe the risks are worth the rewards.