Sarah Chaney and Chris Millard, in their respective volumes, ally themselves to a view of psychiatric knowledge that derives from historical epistemology. They both use Ian Hacking’s concept of ‘making up people’ to develop the ways that psychiatry produces specific objects of knowledge which are then transported to society through the expansion of psychiatric power - via psychiatric social workers, structures like the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, and education programmes. The increased prevalence of the self-harmer is in part produced by the sustained and expanding psychiatric attention.

Sarah Chaney, Psyche on the Skin, Reaktion Books, London, 2017, £20.00, 320pp. ISBN 9781780237503; Chris Millard, A History of Self-Harm in Britain: a genealogy of cutting and overdosing, Palgrave, London, 2015, £15.99 and available open access. ISBN  9781137547736. by Ivan Crozier People have always changed their bodies in permanent ways – whether with tattoos, scars, tongue splits, brands, piercings, genital modifications (from religious circumcision to self-bifurcation), or through cosmetic surgery. These changes give the body a particular meaning that is entirely dependent on the social context. Sometimes, scarification is done to show belonging to a particular ethnic group (a Mossi man from Burkina Faso was traditionally initiated with specific facial scars made with a hot knife), while other scars might be consensually produced as a part of a heavy sadomasochistic scene, and yet others – as these two books show – might be the result of a distressed teenager engaging in a self-harming practice which increasingly

became viewed as a ‘cry for help’ within psychiatric discourses, and which necessitated the intervention of mental health professionals. These acts of body modification only take on their meanings within certain social groups. In some cases, self-injury is framed as resulting from a disturbed mind. Psychiatry is the dominant current way of understanding deliberate self-inflicted injuries in the west, but this was not always the framework, and, as these two books show, there is much to suggest that psychiatric power is being resisted in current corporeal practices. The abhorrence that has framed self-injuring is partly tied up in ideas about pain as a wholly negative experience, with those willing to engage in it consciously believed to be mentally disturbed and requiring psychiatric attention. This is the main reason that sadomasochistic practices come under the scrutiny of psychiatrists. Another important framework for considering self-harm is the social and legal status granted to suicide. Self-harm was developed as a category within psychiatry, firstly believed to be…

This book valuably complements the existing bodies of work dealing, on the one hand, with German-language contributions to the development of physical anthropology, and, on the other, with the history of British and American ethnology. Historians of science, scholars of Enlightenment thought, and those interested in the peoples of Siberia are the obvious target audience, but 'Before Boas' also has much to offer to anthropologists, ethnologists, geographers, and historians, each of whom will learn a great deal about the history of their own discipline.

Han F. Vermeulen, Before Boas: The Genesis of Ethnography and Ethnology in the German Enlightenment. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2015, $75.00. xxiii + 718 pages, ISBN: 978-0-8032-5542-5 by Hilary Howes The central argument of Han F. Vermeulen’s Before Boas, which checks in at an impressive – indeed, somewhat daunting – 718 pages, is presented with admirable conciseness at the very beginning of the first chapter.  Both ethnography, ‘conceived as a program for describing peoples and nations in Russian Asia and carried out by German-speaking explorers and historians’, and ethnology, developed by ‘historians in European academic centers dealing with a comprehensive and critical study of peoples’, ‘originated in the work of eighteenth-century German or German-speaking scholars associated with the Russian Academy of Sciences, the University of Göttingen, and the Imperial Library in Vienna’ (pp.1-2).  The formation of these studies, Vermeulen adds, ‘took place in three stages: (1) as Völker-Beschreibung or ethnography in the work of the German historian and Siberia explorer Gerhard Friedrich Müller during the

first half of the eighteenth century, (2) as Völkerkunde and ethnologia in the work of the German or German-speaking historians August Ludwig Schlözer, Johann Christoph Gatterer, and Adam František Kollár during the second half of the eighteenth century, and (3) as ethnography or ethnology by scholars in other centers of learning in Europe and the United States during the final decades of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century’ (pp.1-2).  Building particularly on existing research by Hans Fischer and Justin Stagl into the importance of Göttingen as a locus of early ethnographic work, Vermeulen pushes the earliest uses of the German terms Völkerkunde, Ethnographie, ethnographisch, and Ethnograph back by several years, and the concept, as Völker-Beschreibung (description of peoples), by several decades.  In the process, he also raises several significant overarching points, including the interconnectedness of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century science in Western Europe and in Russia; the need to distinguish between ‘colonial anthropology’ and…

Progressive social and political ideals have been integral to biology and our understanding of the human during the past 70 years. But with private companies becoming significant actors in the development and communication of these ideas, there are profoundly important questions about the ownership of human heritage, not to mention inequalities in participating in it and accessing any of its future benefits.

Marianne Sommer, History Within: The Science, Culture, and Politics of Bones, Organisms, and Molecules, London and Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2016, 544 pages, cloth $50.00 ISBN 9780226347325. by Chris Renwick UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation – is probably best known to the public for the “world heritage site” status it has awarded to buildings, structures, and places including the Acropolis, the Galapagos Islands, and the Taj Mahal since it was founded in 1945. Given this role as a guardian of the globe’s heritage, it might surprise some people that UNESCO’s first director – and the man who insisted it include science as well as education and culture in its remit – was Julian Huxley (1887-1975). Grandson of “Darwin’s Bulldog”, Thomas Henry Huxley, Julian was a distinguished biologist in his own right and a public intellectual who had written numerous best-sellers, including Evolution: The Modern Synthesis (1942), been Secretary of

the Zoological Society of London, and even won an Oscar for his documentary film, The Private Life of Gannets (1934). Julian Huxley’s connection with UNESCO made perfect sense. A campaigner for what he called “evolutionary” or “scientific” humanism, he believed there was no good reason to exclude the stuff of which we are made from our concept of heritage. Huxley’s vision is one of the three overlapping evolutionary programmes – the others belonging to the American paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn (1857-1935) and the Italian geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza (b. 1922) – that Marianne Sommer has weaved into the compelling History Within. Charting almost 100 years across 15 deeply researched and packed chapters, Sommer tells a story about the efforts to come to terms with the biological, social, and cultural meaning of evolution during the twentieth century. Focusing on an evolving understanding of heritage, through which thinkers fused biology, society, and culture whilst avoiding reductionism, History Within documents a complex intergenerational project to provide us with…

We know that the interpretation of symbols played an important role in the beginnings of psychoanalysis, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. This practice first appeared as a technique for interpreting dreams, with the goal of filling out the material obtained in the patient’s free associations while recounting a dream. For the therapist, it helped both to overcome mental blocks and to explain Oedipal fantasies to the patient. But psychoanalysts soon extended this practice to interpreting symbols in myths, religions, and literary texts.

L’Âge d’homme preceded by L’Afrique fantôme, by Michel Leiris. Paris: Gallimard, 2014. Edited by Denis Hollier, in collaboration with Francis Marmande and Catherine Maubon, Series: Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, n°600. 1456 pages, 38 ill., ISBN: 9782070114559. by Emmanuel Delille A new edition of L’Âge d’homme (available in English as Manhood) by Michel Leiris (1901-1990), overseen by Denis Hollier, was published by the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade at the end of 2014. It constitutes the second volume of Leiris’ selected works, the first volume being La Règle du jeu. The edition presents selected autobiographical texts in addition to L’Âge d’homme, including L’Afrique fantôme. (The latter is often translated into English as Ghostly Africa, but will be soon published for the first time as Phantom Africa in a new translation by Brent Hayes Edwards). L’Afrique fantôme is an essay that is simultaneously controversial and foundational for French ethnology. Hollier’s editorial decision highlights Leiris’ contribution to the genre that we call autofiction, wherein autobiographical materials are rewritten using the techniques of fiction writing – in contrast to the

raw journals kept by Leiris between 1922 and 1989. Hollier has proposed the general title L’âge d’homme fantôme to identify this corpus; following Edwards’ new translation of Phantom Africa, an English version of this title could be Phantom Manhood The volume is imposing; for this reason, my analysis focuses solely on L’Âge d’homme, the best-known of Leiris’ books among the general public (L’Afrique fantôme is the object of another review article, in the Japanese academic journal Zinbun). From my perspective, it is not, for all that, his masterpiece; however, this narrative has benefited from its long availability as a mass-market paperback, unlike L’Afrique fantôme. Of Leiris’ books, it is also the one closest to the genre of confessional literature: it reveals the author’s sexual obsessions, the pathological shame he felt, and how he turned to the psychoanalytic interpretation of myths to narrate his experience. Hollier soberly recounts the book’s…

Much like Hasok Chang, who has put forward the idea of a history and philosophy of science that functions as 'complementary science,' Strick is interested in the way in which historical knowledge might be useful in uncovering and helping to reinstate forms of scientific knowledge that have been obscured or deliberately left out in the development of scientific disciplines.

James E. Strick, Wilhelm Reich, Biologist. (London: Harvard University Press, 2015). 467pp. ISBN 9780674736092. (hardcover), £31.95 by Matei Iagher  In his biography of Wilhelm Reich (1983), Myron Sharaf began the section on Reich's scientific work with a warning that he did not have the requisite competence to judge this scientific work, and that the existing literature on this aspect of Reich's work was too unreliable to be used  in making a critical assessment. This caveat could be read as a challenge for historians of science, but as the Reich archives only became available in 2007, the task of providing a competent, historical account of Reich's biological work also had to wait. The wait has not been in vain, as with James Strick’s Wilhelm Reich, Biologist we now have a balanced and thoroughly researched account of Reich's experimental work in the 1930s, which is likely to become the standard for any future historical investigation of Reich's work. Outside of a small circle

of researchers and aficionados, Wilhelm Reich's name does not immediately evoke associations with laboratory biological research. Rather, he is much more well-known as a psychotherapist, a psychoanalyst and Freudian dissenter, and above all, as a forefather of  the 1960s sexual revolution and as an intellectual source for later American and European counterculture. Much of the popular image of Reich is, even today, glazed over with an unsavory patina—an echo of the sensationalist reporting that tarnished his reputation in the 1950s, when the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also made him the target of a witch hunt (Reich's books were burnt, and he was eventually imprisoned for contempt of court). Part of the aim of Strick's book is to destroy this popular, pseudo-scientific aura that hangs around Reich, by showing that some of his most controversial theories were rooted in serious, cutting edge research. Methodologically, the book draws on an extensive engagement with the Reich archive (his laboratory notebooks, correspondence, research…

Neuroscience and Critique appears in an established genre – but it has significant virtues of its own. Central among these is the sheer breadth of its scholarship: this is a properly interdisciplinary collection, featuring not only philosophers with interests in critical theory and/or psychoanalysis, but also a geographer, an anthropologist and STS scholar, a neuroscientist, and a psychologist, among others. What holds this disparate collection of interests together is a commitment to not only some kind of critical engagement with neuroscience – but also a shared attention to what, precisely, critique can do, even to what critique might be, as it gets more widely entangled in neuro-sciences and neuro-cultures.

Jan De Vos and Ed Pluth (Eds.), Neuroscience and Critique: Exploring the Limits of the Neurological Turn New York and London, Routledge, 2016, 236 pages, hardback £95.00, paperback £31.99, ISBN: 978-1138887350 What is it about neuroscience? Ever since a group of disparate life sciences – partly propelled by ‘the decade of the brain’ in the 1990s – congealed into what we today call ‘neuroscience,' scholars from the humanities and social sciences have been committed, sometimes intensely committed, to a more-or-less sharp critique of this science, and the unspooling of its socio-political effects. Indeed, in recent years, neuroscience has not only been the object of critical scrutiny, but has become something of a whet-stone on which critique sharpens itself – a sort of funhouse mirror for critical social scientists to figure out what it is, exactly, they stand for. What explains this cultural role of neuroscience in the academy? Is it a fear that, in its powerfully reductive hold over

human subjectivity (so it seems, anyway), neuroscience will ultimately stake a claim to all social, cultural, and human insight – an ‘expectation,’ as Jan De Vos and Ed Puth put it in their introduction to Neuroscience and Critique, ‘that the neurosciences will explain it all?’ (p.2). Neuroscience and Critique appears in an established genre – but it has significant virtues of its own. Central among these is the sheer breadth of its scholarship: this is a properly interdisciplinary collection, featuring not only philosophers with interests in critical theory and/or psychoanalysis, but also a geographer, an anthropologist and STS scholar, a neuroscientist, and a psychologist, among others. What holds this disparate collection of interests together is a commitment to not only some kind of critical engagement with neuroscience – but also a shared attention to what, precisely, critique can do, even to what critique might be, as it gets more widely entangled in neuro-sciences and neuro-cultures. At the heart of the book, then, is a…

Perhaps the most shocking part of this book are the stories of what happened to these Jewish psychologists after fascism had fallen during and after World War Two. Unfortunately, as with many other Jews who had been discriminated against or sacked in a variety of sectors, their reintegration and rehabilitation was neither easy nor straightforward. Would these people simply be offered their former jobs back? Some were happy to stay where they were, but others tried to return to Italy. Others appeared lost – nobody seemed to know where they were or what they were doing. Should those who ‘replaced’ these people be themselves sacked or moved on?

Patrizia Guarnieri, Italian Psychology and Jewish Emigration under Fascism. From Florence to Jerusalem and New York New York, Palgrave Macmillan US, 2016, 275 pages, Hardcover $100.00; E-Book: $79.99,  ISBN: 978-1-137-30655-5/978-1-137-30656-2 by John Foot This is a difficult and at the same time a fascinating book. It has many sites of focus and can also be read as a set of collective biographies or individual pathlines through the worlds of psychology, fascism and Jewish identity in Italy and elsewhere. The overall analysis of the book is linked to the study of psychology and psychologists in Italy – and the way this nascent and marginalised discipline developed in that country before, during and after fascism – and in particular in the city of Florence. Thus, Guarnieri tells us a number of important stories of individuals who carried forward this discipline and taught and research within various areas of psychology. Within this world, in Italy, we quickly come across the all powerful role played by

Agostino Gemelli in the private Catholic University in Milan. As Guarnieri points out, Gemelli had institutional resources behind him. Gemelli, a friar, turns up time and time again in this book as a king-maker, able to create or destroy careers – and someone who, within Italian psychology, it was very difficult to avoid. For me, the most fascinating parts of this volume are those linked to the pernicious effects of Italy’s anti-semitic laws of 1938.  These laws led in most cases to the expulsion of all Jews from academic posts in Italian universities.  These people were forced to find another job – not easy in a country which officially discriminated against Jews and where psychology itself was hardly a major discipline. Guarnieri then takes up individual pathways of certain key psychologists. There is the detailed and extraordinary story of Enzo Bonaventura, who emigrated to Palestine in March 1939 and became Professor of Psychology in the Hebrew University. But perhaps the…

When placed in a broad multicultural and historical context, the Chinese approach to emotion differs substantially and substantively from that favoured in the West. While the West has long been concerned with the ways that emotion can distort 'reality,' the Chinese notion of qing holds that emotion 'discloses something that is true about the person and the world' by grounding the person in reality. This sensitizes the person to the undisclosed or implicit impact that the world has upon us. While Western theory focuses on differences ('symmetry breakdown') that foster action and control, the Chinese privilege symmetry as evidenced by a heightened appreciation of harmony and resonance with others and nature as a whole.

Louise Sundararajan, Understanding Emotion in Chinese Culture: Thinking Through Psychology.  Springer International Publishing, 2015, 201 pages, Hardcover £90.00/-Book £72.99, ISBN: 978-3-319-18220-9/978-3-319-18221-6 by Gerald C. Cupchik Louise Sundararajan’s book offers a comparison between Western and Chinese culture based in part on differing modes of cognition that underlie lived experiences. Her approach is more nuanced than the usual East and West comparison. First, she is careful to focus on Chinese culture instead of making sweeping generalizations about the East. Second, while using the term “West,” she focuses on contemporary Western psychology. Since scientific psychology does not necessarily represent the full scope of knowledge about Western emotions, this book pertains primarily to western psychological conceptualizations of emotions, not Western emotional experiences per se. Sundararajan presents as a scholar with a foot in each of two worlds. On the one hand, she introduces many valuable concepts from Chinese culture and, in particular, the contrast by Confucian and Daoist approaches to life and meaning. On the other hand, she is

well versed and established in the mainstream literature from Western psychology with a bit of philosophy thrown in. Sundararajan summarizes the challenge of understanding Chinese emotions as follows: 'This suggests that a central problem for understanding Chinese emotions is the gap between mainstream western scientific terminology and indigenous Chinese psychology.'  At the heart of her book is the bridging of dynamics of emotional processes in Chinese culture with concepts and findings in the Western empirical tradition. Implicitly juxtaposed against mechanistic thinking in Western psychology is the Chinese approach that focuses on dynamic processes.  Sundararajan explains this difference in terms of that between non-relational and relational cognition. Relational cognition, which applies to Chinese culture, focuses on holistic mind-to-mind transactions based on shared meanings. Western culture embodies more linear non-relational cognition emphasizing mind-to-world transactions and mastery over the environment. Whereas the former is marked by Communal Sharing, the latter is reflected in Market Pricing. Understood in terms of…

One of the most important contributions of this book is its consideration of how late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century descriptions and understandings of the brain and the nervous system fell within a wider humanistic project. Casper’s exploration of the archives of the Neurological Society of London offers a unique window onto the nature of debates on topical issues at the time, in particular the conflict between specialisation and general medicine or generalist approaches to the body and mind.

Stephen T. Casper, The Neurologists: A History of a Medical Specialty in Modern Britain c. 1789-2000 Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2014, 288 pages, hardcover £70.00, ISBN: 978-0-7190-9192-6 Stephen T. Casper’s first book is an interesting reflection on the early origins of neurological sciences and the reasons why they came to dominate descriptions of mental processes and human reasoning.  Casper uses traditional techniques in the history of medicine to reveal the long history of the birth and development of the specialism of neurology in Britain. One of the most important contributions of this book is its consideration of how late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century descriptions and understandings of the brain and the nervous system fell within a wider humanistic project. Casper’s exploration of the archives of the Neurological Society of London offers a unique window onto the nature of debates on topical issues at the time, in particular the conflict between specialisation and general medicine or generalist approaches to the body and mind.  As Casper argues, ‘specialisation’

was an idea that was ‘peculiar to modernity’ which otherwise employed the language of evolution to develop organic models of society ultimately within functionalist sociology. His reflection on neurology as a discipline thus offers insights into how and why neurological hypotheses and ideas prospered in the British context as well how neurologists themselves negotiated their ability to offer wider insights on human nature whilst simultaneously protecting their own science. Although the term ‘neurology’ can be traced to 1664 in the work of Thomas Willis, and was used by phrenologists in the late 18th-century, it appeared rarely in both medical and lay literature until the latter part of the 19th century.  The specialty of neurology also emerged at this time. Its origins are associated with the foundation of the journal Brain: A Journal of Neurology in 1876. However, Casper argues, neurology did not achieve a coherent form until the interwar period.  And even when it did, there were always…

Nicholls’ monograph is the very first comprehensive English-language introduction to Blumenberg’s theory of myth, but even compared with introductions that are available in German, it is unique in its commitment to making Blumenberg’s arguments accessible combined with an extraordinary depth of scholarship on his intellectual background.

Angus Nicholls, Hans Blumenberg on Myth and the Human Sciences  New York and London, Routledge, 2015, 277 pages, hardcover £90, e-version £34,99, ISBN: 978-0-415-88549-2 I am fully convinced that this book will become an important tool in research and teaching, not only on the twentieth-century German philosopher Hans Blumenberg (1920-1996) but in the wider areas of myth and anthropology. It may even be of interest to an even more diverse audience, bringing a new level of complexity to current debates between religion and evolutionary theory. The title of the book itself holds the possibility of bridging the gap between cultural studies and natural sciences and reclaims the term “science” from the latter. It demonstrates, through Blumenberg’s work, how interwoven mythologies and the natural sciences actually are. The border between logos and myth is, according to Blumenberg, a fictive one. Nicholls’ monograph is the very first comprehensive English-language introduction to Blumenberg’s theory of myth, but even compared with introductions that are available in German,

it is unique in its commitment to making Blumenberg’s arguments accessible combined with an extraordinary depth of scholarship on his intellectual background. Blumenberg’s highly original theory of myth, outlined in the volume Work on Myth (1979; English translation 1985), distinguishes him as the most important German theorist of myth of the second half of the twentieth-century. His work has resonated internationally across academic disciplines ranging from literary theory, philosophy, religious studies and anthropology, to the history and philosophy of science. Blumenberg’s theory of myth is deeply related to debates within the broad field known as the 'human sciences,' particularly to philosophical anthropology and evolutionary biology. Emerging from his view of humans as 'creatures of deficiency' – organisms which, by virtue of their capacity for reflective thought, find themselves at odds with the order of nature – his theory breaks with enlightenment ideas by ascribing to myth a rational function. Indeed, the distinctive feature of Blumenberg’s approach is his…