Tag Archives: history of the human sciences

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The April 2013 issue of the journal History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in these issue are seven all new articles on topics that include the history of psychiatric ideas about self-harm, madness and the brain, and early British and American sociology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Religion, polygenism and the early science of human origins,” by Terence D. Keel. The abstract reads,

American polygenism was a provocative scientific movement whose controversial claim that humankind did not share a common ancestor caused a firestorm among naturalists and the lay public beginning in the 1830s. This article gives specific attention to the largely overlooked religious ideas marshaled by American polygenists in their effort to construct race as a unit of analysis. I focus specifically on the thought of the American polygenist and renowned surgeon Dr Josiah Clark Nott (1804–73) of Mobile, Alabama. Scholars have claimed that in his effort to establish a properly modern scientific view of race Nott was one of the first American naturalists to publicly denounce the notion of common human descent (monogenesis) as proclaimed in the Bible. I argue that despite his rejection of monogenesis, Nott’s racial theory remained squarely within the tradition of Christian ideas about the natural world. American polygenism provides an example of how scientific and religious ideas worked together in the minds of American antebellum thinkers in the development of novel theories about race and human origins.

“Badness, madness and the brain – the late 19th-century controversy on immoral persons and their malfunctioning brains,” by Felix Schirmann. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The February 2013 issue of the History of the Human Sciences is now online. Included in this issue are a number of all new articles that address topics that range from Latour, Péguy, and the history of science to the instincts of insects and boundary work in social psychology. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The materiality of things? Bruno Latour, Charles Péguy and the history of science,” by Henning Schmidgen. The abstract reads,

This article sheds new light on Bruno Latour’s sociology of science and technology by looking at his early study of the French writer, philosopher and editor Charles Péguy (1873–1914). In the early 1970s, Latour engaged in a comparative study of Péguy’s Clio and the four gospels of the New Testament. His 1973 contribution to a Péguy colloquium (published in 1977) offers rich insights into his interest in questions of time, history, tradition and translation. Inspired by Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of difference, Latour reads Clio as spelling out and illustrating the following argument: ‘Repetition is a machine to produce differences with identity’. However, in contrast to Deleuze’s work (together with Félix Guattari) on the materiality of machines, or assemblages [agencements], Latour emphasizes the semiotic aspects of the repetition/difference process. As in Péguy, the main model for this process is the Roman Catholic tradition of religious events. The article argues that it is this reading of Péguy and Latour’s early interest in biblical exegesis that inspired much of Latour’s later work. In Laboratory Life (Latour and Woolgar, 1979) and The Pasteurization of France (1988) in particular, problems of exegesis and tradition provide important stimuli for the analysis of scientific texts. In this context, Latour gradually transforms the question of tradition into the problem of reference. In a first step, he shifts the event that is transmitted and translated from the temporal dimension (i.e. the past) to the spatial (i.e. from one part of the laboratory to another). It is only in a second step that Latour resituates scientific events in time. As facts they are ‘constructed’ but nevertheless ‘irreducible’. They result, according to Latour, from the tradition of the future. As a consequence, the Latourian approach to science distances itself from the materialism of Deleuze and other innovative theoreticians.

“Oikonomia in the age of empires,” by Dotan Leshem. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

Special Issue: History of Psychosocial Stress

Interested in the history of stress? If so, you will want to check out a just released special issue on the topic. The December 2012 issue of History of the Human Sciences is guest edited by Rhodri Hayward and dedicated to the subject of “Inventing the Psychosocial: Stress and Social Psychiatry.” Articles in this issue examine a diverse array of subjects including: the work of Hans Selye, somatic disorders during World War Two, the development of psychosocial medicine in Britain, the rat and stress, and much more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The invention of the psychosocial: An introduction,” by Rhodri Hayward. The abstract reads,

Although the compound adjective ‘psychosocial’ was first used by academic psychologists in the 1890s, it was only in the interwar period that psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers began to develop detailed models of the psychosocial domain. These models marked a significant departure from earlier ideas of the relationship between society and human nature. Whereas Freudians and Darwinians had described an antagonistic relationship between biological instincts and social forces, interwar authors insisted that individual personality was made possible through collective organization. This argument was advanced by dissenting psychoanalysts such as Ian Suttie and Karen Horney; biologists including Julian Huxley and Hans Selye; philosophers (e.g. Olaf Stapledon), anthropologists (e.g. Margaret Mead) and physicians (e.g John Ryle and James Halliday).

This introduction and the essays that follow sketch out the emergence of the psycho-social by examining the methods, tools and concepts through which it was articulated. New statistical technologies and physiological theories allowed individual pathology to be read as an index of broader social problems and placed medical expertise at the centre of new political programmes. In these arguments the intangible structure of social relationships was made visible and provided a template for the development of healthy and effective forms of social organization. By examining the range of techniques deployed in the construction of the psychosocial (from surveys of civilian neurosis, techniques of family observation through to animal models of psychotic breakdown) a critical genealogy of the biopolitical basis of modern society is developed.

“The pursuit of happiness: The social and scientific origins of Hans Selye’s natural philosophy of life,” by Mark Jackson. The abstract reads,

In 1956, Hans Selye tentatively suggested that the scientific study of stress could ‘help us to formulate a precise program of conduct’ and ‘teach us the wisdom to live a rich and meaningful life’. Continue reading Special Issue: History of Psychosocial Stress

New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

The April 2012 issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. This month’s issue is a special issue, guest edited by Elizabeth Valentine, on the topic of parapsychology, occultism, and spiritualism. The eight all new articles in the issue explore the history of psychology’s relationship to spiritualism and other occult matters across the globe; most specifically in the Netherlands, the United States of America, Germany, Britain, France, Spain, Hungary, and Japan. (Pictured above is medium Eusapia Palladino, the subject of one of the issues articles, in a seance in 1898.) Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Psychical research and parapsychology interpreted: Suggestions from the international historiography of psychical research and parapsychology for investigating its history in the Netherlands,” by Ingrid Kloosterman. The abstract reads,

One of the reasons the history of parapsychology and its ancestor psychical research is intriguing is because it addresses a central issue: the boundaries of science. This article provides an overview of the historiography of parapsychology and presents an approach to investigate the Dutch history of parapsychology contributing to the understanding of this central theme. In the first section the historical accounts provided by psychical researchers and parapsychologists themselves are discussed; next those studies of sociologists and historians understanding parapsychology as deviant and even potentially revolutionary are dealt with; third, more contemporary studies are examined whereby enterprises such as parapsychology are understood as central to the culture in which they arose. On the basis of this analysis a new direction in the historiography of the subject is suggested in the fourth section, centred upon the relation between parapsychology and psychology in the Netherlands throughout the 20th century. In the Netherlands not only were pioneering psychologists such as Gerard Heymans (1857–1930) actively involved in experiments into telepathy, the first professor in parapsychology in the world – Wilhelm Tenhaeff (1894–1981) – was appointed in 1953 at Utrecht University and in the 1970s and 1980s parapsychology had its own research laboratory at Utrecht University in the division of psychology. This unique situation in the Netherlands deserves scholarly attention and makes an interesting case to investigate the much-neglected connections between the fields of psychology and parapsychology in the 20th century. The connections between psychology and parapsychology might help us to understand why parapsychology came to be regarded as a pseudoscience.

“Psychical research and the origins of American psychology: Hugo Münsterberg, William James and Eusapia Palladino,” by Andreas Sommer. The abstract reads, Continue reading New! Special Issue History of the Human Sciences

The Intellectual Response to the Kinsey Report

The February 2012 issue of History of the Human Sciences includes an article that may be of interest to AHP‘s readers. In “‘A most interesting chapter in the history of science’: Intellectual responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” Donna Drucker explores the various academic responses to Kinsey’s extensive mid-century study of male sexual behaviour. Drucker also touches upon the intellectual response to Kinsey’s later companion piece on female sexual behaviour, particularly how this study’s appearance during the Cold War era provoked specific kinds of fears. Title, author, and abstract follow below.

“‘A most interesting chapter in the history of science’: Intellectual responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” by Donna J. Drucker. The abstract reads,

There were three broad categories of academic responses to Alfred Kinsey’s Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Kinsey, Pomeroy and Martin, 1948): method; findings; and broader reflections on the book’s place in American social life and democracy. This article focuses primarily on archival academic responses to Kinsey’s work that appeared in the year following the book’s publication. Many academics agreed that some aspects of Kinsey’s method were flawed and that his interpretations sometimes overreached his raw data. Nonetheless, they also agreed that no one else had gathered such a diverse sampling of interviewees whose behaviors Kinsey could use to create new interpretive models of human sexuality. As Kinsey’s research was deliberately interdisciplinary, his research and statistical methodologies began to catch on in the human sciences and to encourage academics and intellectuals to rethink their human science practices. As academics reflected on the volume’s larger meaning in American life, several of them thought it exemplified the worst American values (emphases on money and size) while others saw the very existence of the Male volume as an excellent example of the ability of free citizens to pursue and to publish research on any topic. While members of the American intelligentsia championed the Male volume and its findings as democratic, the reception of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (Kinsey, Pomeroy, Martin and Gebhard, 1953), published at an intense moment of the cold war, was viewed as a communist threat to American security for revealing the sexual secrets of the public.

Foucault & the History of the Human Sciences

A special issue of History of the Human Sciences, dedicated to the work of French historian and philosopher Michel Foucault (left), has just been released online. The issue covers a wide range of topics in relation to Foucault’s work including madness, sexuality, technologies of the self, and political science, among others. Comprised of nine contributions from a number of prominent scholars, the issue is a must read for those with an interest in Foucault and his work. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Foucault across the disciplines: Introductory notes on contingency in critical inquiry,” by Colin Koopman. The abstract reads,

Foucault is one of the most widely cited thinkers across social sciences and humanities disciplines today. Foucault’s appeal, and ongoing value, across the disciplines has much to do with the power of his thought and his method to help us see the contingency of practices we take to be inevitable. It is argued in this introductory article that Foucault’s emphasis on contingency is as misunderstood as it is influential. I distinguish two senses of contingency in Foucault. A first sense, widely acknowledged, concerns Foucault’s facility at showing that a taken-for-natural practice is in fact contingently produced. A second sense, widely neglected, concerns the facility of Foucauldian methods for grasping how a given practice was contingently produced. The second sense of contingency opens up possibilities for practical transformation that the former sense of contingency largely leaves to the side.

“Déraison,” by Ian Hacking. The abstract reads,

Michel Foucault’s famous book on madness first appeared in 1961 as Folie et Déraison. When it was reissued in 1972, ‘Déraison’ had dropped from the title, but it remained dense in the text, often capitalized or italicized. No two texts, abridgements, or translations of the madness book are identical with respect to the word. It is translated as ‘unreason’, but what does it mean? How did Foucault use it? Why did he come to downplay it? The relationships between déraison and painting and writing are explored. It is noted that the idea of ‘archaeology of knowledge’ is introduced in connection with a discussion of folie and déraison as displayed in Racine’s Andromaque. Continue reading Foucault & the History of the Human Sciences

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The April 2011 issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are eight all new articles as well as three book reviews. Among the topics addressed in these articles are the history of qualitative research in the social sciences, character types and space in early statistical writings, a history of bedwetting and its regulation, a history of therapeutic work, Quakerism and the Tavistock Clinic’s development, alienation theory, the work of Hannah Arendt, and the con man origins of Erving Goffman’s (left) dramaturgical self. Full title, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Toward a social history of qualitative research,” by Gordana Jovanovic. The abstract reads,

There are plausible academic as well as social indicators that qualitative research has become an indispensable part of the methodological repertoire of the social sciences. Relying upon the tenets of the qualitative approach which require a priority of subject matter over method and a necessary socio-historical contextualization, I reconstruct some aspects of a social history that have shaped the quantitative—qualitative dichotomy and the quantitative imperative; these include modern individualism, monological rationality, manufacture operating on the grounds of common human labour, mechanics as the first science, quantification as a technology of distanced objectivity and a search for certainty realized at the expense of qualitative attributes. The so-called renaissance of the qualitative approach starting in 1960s, understood as a kind of a return of repressed qualities, is also socio-culturally contextualized. Both anthropogenetic and sociogenetic reconstructions as well as a microgenetic analysis of the research process demonstrate that choices of subject matter and of methodology are socially and culturally embedded and necessarily linked to broader interests and beliefs. Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The February 2011 issue of History of the Human Sciences has been released online. Included in this issue are six all new articles, a review symposium, and a book review of Roderick Buchanan’s new book, Playing with Fire: The Controversial Career of Hans J. Eysenck. Among the topics addressed in these articles are the placebo effect in psychotherapy, the use of ‘deprivation’ in American psychiatric discourse, and the role of case studies in psychoanalysis. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“From medicine to psychotherapy: The placebo effect,” by Stewart Justman. The abstract reads,

If placebos have been squeezed out of medicine to the point where their official place is in clinical trials designed to identify their own confounding effect, the placebo effect nevertheless thrives in psychotherapy. Not only does psychotherapy dispose of placebo effects that are less available to medicine as it becomes increasingly technological and preoccupied with body parts, but factors of the sort inhibiting the use of placebos in medicine have no equivalent in psychology. Medicine today is disturbed by the placebo effect in a way psychotherapy is not. Psychotherapy does not have to grapple with such a disconcerting paradox as successful sham surgery, and unlike those physicians who once pretended to treat the patient’s body while actually attempting to treat the mind, the psychotherapist can treat the mind in all frankness. Perhaps it is because psychotherapy is less burdened by doubts about the placebo effect that it was able to come to its aid when it was orphaned by medicine. It is vain to expect something with so long a history as the placebo effect to disappear from the practices of healing. Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The December 2010 issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. Included in this issue are nine all new articles. Among the topics addressed in these articles are, James and Durkheim on truth, Freud and Krafft-Ebing on sexuality, and the historiography of sexuality. Additionally, Janet Martin-Nielsen (left) writes of the emergence of linguistics in the United States during the Cold War. Titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Durkheim, Jamesian pragmatism and the normativity of truth,” by Warren Schmaus. The abstract reads,

In his lectures on pragmatism presented in the academic year 1913—14 at the Sorbonne, Durkheim argued that James’s pragmatist theory of truth, due to its emphasis on individual satisfaction, was unable to account for the obligatory, necessary and impersonal character of truth. But for Durkheim to make this charge is only to raise the question whether he himself could account for the morally obligatory or normative character of truth. Although rejecting individualism may be necessary for explaining the existence of norms, it is not sufficient. I argue that Durkheim never succeeded in providing a full account of normativity. Of course, this is a problem that remains unresolved today. Nevertheless, Durkheim took an important step beyond James in recognizing the insufficiency of his individualist account of truth.

“Sexual science and self-narrative: epistemology and narrative technologies of the self between Krafft-Ebing and Freud,” by Paolo Savoia. The abstract reads, Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

New Issue: History of the Human Sciences

The October issue of History of the Human Sciences has just been released online. The issue features articles on the self, addiction neuropolitics, and an interesting section on why we should read histories of science initiated by Steve Fuller (left), which is followed by several commentaries and a response from Fuller. Article authors, titles, and abstracts follow below.

Oscar Moro Abadía and Francisco Pelayo:” Reflections on the concept of ‘precursor’: Juan de Vilanova and the discovery of Altamira”. The abstract reads:

Considering the case of Juan de Vilanova y Piera, often celebrated as the first scientist to accept the prehistoric antiquity of palaeolithic paintings, we explore some of the problems related to the concept of ‘precursor’ in the field of the history of science. In the first section, we propose a brief history of this notion focusing on those authors who have reflected critically on the meaning of predecessors. In the second section, the example of Vilanova illustrates the ways in which historians of science have created precursors. From the vantage of modern science, precursors have traditionally been defined as those who first indicated or announced ideas or theories later accepted by the scientific community. As a result, they have been represented as ‘heroes’ struggling hard to defeat the ignorance of their time. Continue reading New Issue: History of the Human Sciences