History and Philosophy of Science Winter [Northern Summer] School: History of Psychiatry, Past Trends, Future Directions

13-17 August 2018, University of Sydney

 

We invite applications from graduate students and early-career researchers in the history and social studies of science and biomedicine, and related fields, for a five-day (southern-hemisphere) winter school focusing on scholarship in the history of psychiatry. This is an excellent opportunity for young scholars interested in some of the more exciting recent developments in the history, sociology, and anthropology of medicine, in particular those scholars seeking to integrate various approaches in the interdisciplinary analysis of psychiatry and its history.

 

The history of psychiatry has attracted sustained attention by historians of medicine over the past several decades. The attention to psychiatry was partly caused by broader public debates about the role of psychiatry in modern societies. During the 1970s, for example, critics such as Thomas Szasz condemned psychiatry as a pseudo-branch of medicine and as a tool of modern societies to force individuals to conform to arbitrary social standards or to forcibly confine them to mental hospitals which Erving Gofman characterised as total institutions akin to prisons and concentration camps. The historical/philosophical work of Michel Foucault contributed to these characterisations as well. These views greatly contributed to historical research on the history of psychiatry.

 

How relevant are the approaches to the history of psychiatry inspired by these critical views today? After deinstitutionalisation, there are hardly any mental hospitals left, the influence of psychoanalysis has greatly declined, and psychiatrists appear to focus more on psychopharmacology than on psychotherapy. During this winter school, we will evaluate past and current research on the history of psychiatry, discuss promising new trends, and focus on topics that we expect will be relevant in the near future. Topics that will be discussed include: Modern Research on Insane Asylums and Mental Hospitals; Colonial and Post-Colonial Psychiatry; Diagnosing Populations: Psychiatric Epidemiology; Deinstitutionalisation and community psychiatry; Trauma: Experience, Explanations, and Treatments.

 

We are looking forward to discussing these issues and many others, according to the interests of participants. Through a mix of seminars, small group discussions, and case studies, graduate students and early-career researchers will become acquainted with the most interesting research in the history of psychiatry. The workshop faculty will illustrate their arguments with examples of their own recent and forthcoming research. We expect participants to shape these discussions and to contribute ideas and examples from their own studies. Additionally, there will be plenty of opportunities to enjoy Sydney’s harbor, beaches, food, and cultural activities.

 

The winter course will be taught by Mark Micale (University of Illinois), Hans Pols (University of Sydney), and several other local academics with interest in this area.

 

We have planned this winter school before the conference of the Society for the Social Study of Science, which will take place from 29 August to 1 September. There will be many interesting smaller events in the week preceding that conference.

 

Applicants should send a CV and a brief description (maximum one page) of their research interests, and how they relate to the topic of the Winter School, to hps.admin@sydney.edu.au (with a subject heading “Winter School Application”). Closing date is May 31, 2018. We will take care of accommodation expenses and meals for the period of the Winter School, but participants (or their institutions) will have to cover their own transport costs.

 

The Winter School is supported by the Sydney Centre for the Foundations of Science and the School of History and Philosophy of Science, and the International Research Collaboration Fund of the University of Sydney.

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