The purpose of this event was to consider changes wrought in the broad interdisciplinary field of the history of the human sciences by new developments in the medical humanities, biological sciences, and literary/cultural theory.

"The Future of the History of the Human Sciences" - hosted jointly by History of the Human Sciences and Dr Chris Renwick - saw established scholars and early-career researchers gather in York for a two-day meeting in April 2016. The aim was to consider changes wrought in the broad interdisciplinary field of the history of the human sciences by new developments in the medical humanities, biological sciences, and literary/cultural theory. In so doing, these scholars not only marked the beginning of a new era for History of Human Sciences with a new editorial team, led by Felicity Callard, but also give thanks to the outgoing editor, James Good. You can find out more about the conference on its website and in the reports on this blog from those who attended. Thanks to the kind

permission of many of those who took part, we can now also make available recordings of a number of the talks. Abstracts for each talk can be found here. • Roger Smith, “Resisting Neurosciences and Sustaining History” • Steve Fuller, “Kuhn’s Curse and the Crisis of the Human” • Des Fitzgerald, “The commotion of the social” • Maurizio Meloni, “The Social as the Non-Biological: Genealogy and Perspectives” • Jessica Hendy, “Molecular Archives of Human History: Moving Beyond Text-Based Sources” • Michael A. Finn, “Possibilities and Problems with the Growing Archive” • Peter Mandler, “The Language of Social Science in Everyday Life: What it Does, How it Circulates, How to Track it” • Amanda Rees “Biocultural Evolution Then and Now: The Brain in Environmental Context OR Counterfactualising the History of Biology and Sociology”        

Social historians of medicine have been especially adamant that medicine should be framed, as the title of the conference suggests, in its place. Medical knowledges could well be understood in a similar or an identical manner across geographical boundaries, but ultimately they have been influenced by the social and cultural contexts within which they were practiced.

The biennial Society for the Social History of Medicine (SSHM) conference took place at the University of Kent, 7-10 July 2016. The conference was opened by the chairman of the society Carsten Timmermann, and Julie Anderson, who organised the event with half a dozen of other postgraduate students in Kent’s history department. They made it clear that as a biennial meeting of members of the field from all over the world, the programme was kept flexible, to enable historians of medicine of diverse approaches and methodologies to present their work, even beyond social history itself. Nonetheless, the conference was officially titled Medicine in its place: situating medicine in historical contexts. The notion of place was open to different interpretations: physical and geographical places, ‘places’ of knowledge production, and the idea of a ‘social space’ as originally conceived by Henri Lefebvre. However, historians were perhaps in agreement that medicine must be understood, as stated in the title, within the social and cultural contexts in which they were

practiced at the time. ‘Medicine’, often misinterpreted as a branch of western science within the popular imagination, has always been contingently constructed within its own time and space. The clearest reflection of the theme of medicine in its place was how many of the papers discussed medicine as practiced within a specific geographical or physical space. Fabrice Cahen explored the geographically located pathology of congenital hip dislocation in provincial France, while at the transnational level Bill Leeming compared the process of institutional diffusion of prenatal diagnosis between Canada and Mexico. Kate Grauvogel’s fascinating paper discussed the renovation of an infamous mental hospital in suburban Stockholm to a modern residential area, articulating how the stigma associated with mental health was ‘contagious’ to the land even after the function of the space changed. As an appropriate commentary on the role of ‘place’ in the construction of medical knowledge, Steve Sturdy delivered the first plenary of the event on the commercialisation of…

Digitisation changes the way we view our archives, as it affects the relationship between what we want to study and what is accessible.

L0005847EB Papyrus text: fragment of Hippocratic oath. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org Papyrus text: fragment of Hippocratic oath: recto, 3rd century MS. 5754 Oxyrhynchus Papyrus 2547 Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

This is part three in a four-part report from the workshop, ‘The Future of the History of the Human Sciences,’ which was held at the University of York, 7-8 April 2016 (see a storify from the workshop here). The workshop was jointly hosted by HHS and Chris Renwick (History, York), and was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of York. Here, Maria Damjanovicova (European Institute of Oncology, University of Milan) reports on the third of the workshop’s core problematics: The Problem of The Archive. What has been the impact of biological data and digital media on the archive and on notions of human nature? In the first talk of this session, ‘Possibilities and Problems with the Growing Archive’, Michael Finn (Museum of the History of Science, Technology, & Medicine, University of Leeds) discussed the changes in how archives are used in research, and the relevance of archival material with the emergence of the digital. He focused on three sets of challenges:

in questions of storage for example, digitisation introduces software and copyright issues, as well as a risk of information-loss when physical objects are digitised. In curation-related challenges, the role of the expert on historical subjects and historical expertise in archives is lost – together with a sense of what gets excluded from what is archived and unfiltered in search results. And in interpretation-related challenges, digitisation changes the way we view our archives, as it affects the relationship between what we want to study and what is accessible. In ‘Molecular Archives of Human History: Moving Beyond Text-Based Sources,’ Jessica Hendy (Department of Archaeology, University of York) drew together a range of material and historical practices showing how, for example, cultural practice towards animals can be gauged through parchment analysis, how the molecular biography of a people (who did not have a chance to write their own history) can be learned from the remains of St. Helena slaves, and…

What these different approaches to the problem of the social – division in knowledge production; attempts of knowledge synthesis; and crisis of sociology – highlighted, is that the future of the history of the human sciences itself entails the prospect of both a ‘new merger’ of and ‘new boundary work’ between and within the social and the biological sciences.

This is part two in a four-part report from the workshop, ‘The Future of the History of the Human Sciences,’ which was held at the University of York, 7-8 April 2016 (see a storify from the workshop here). The workshop was jointly hosted by HHS and Chris Renwick (History, York), and was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of York. Here, Maria Damjanovicova (European Institute of Oncology, University of Milan) reports on another of the workshop’s core problematics: The Problem of The Social. How do models of ‘the social’ in the life sciences challenge those in the social sciences and humanities? The first talk of this session was Des Fitzgerald’s ‘The Commotion of the Social’. Fitzgerald (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University) engaged with a crisis of sociology considered to have been brought about by the challenge that technology poses to sociological research, and confronted the idea of duality in mainstream sociology – that sociology must be dead or alive, digital or

analogue, etc. Using urban life, a case with long established interest for both biology and sociology, Fitzgerald introduced the idea of a ‘limit sociology’ – a concept inspired by Stefan Helmreich’s notion of a ‘limit biology’ – as a form of practice, in a time of ecological crisis, and an edge case for connecting sociology and biology in an interesting way. Describing his current project, which embraces a ‘limit sociology approach,’ and looks at stress and the topologies of stress in Shanghai, Fitzgerald proposed an alternative future for the sciences of the social to go on living into the twenty-first century. In ’The Social as the Non-Biological: Genealogy and Perspectives’, Maurizio Meloni (Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield) examined how we came to think, ‘it is social vs. biological’ via the notion of inheritance and its division into biological heredity and social heritage. Locating the split into soft/hard heredity and genetics/epigenetics in the period after Erasmus…

The human that emerges from both Smith and Brenninkmeijer’s papers demonstrates notable similarities. In both accounts, the human is irreducible to a single conceptual category or body of knowledge, retaining its ability to confuse, surprise, and frustrate historian and human scientist alike. However, Fuller departs from this vision of the body, downplaying the current biological form of the human as merely one phase through which humanity will eventually pass.

This is the first in a four-part report from the workshop, 'The Future of the History of the Human Sciences,' which was held at the University of York, 7-8 April 2016 (see a storify form the workshop here). The workshop was jointly hosted by HHS and Chris Renwick (History, York), and was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, and the University of York. Here, David Saunders (postgraduate student at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, Manchester) reports on one of the workshop's core problematics: The Problem of The Human. “We very much hope that this is an event where we can all be provocative and disagree with each other,” notes Felicity Callard (editor-in-chief of History of the Human Sciences) in her opening address to the attendees of the ‘Future of the History of the Human Sciences’ conference. The event’s first session, ‘The Problem of the Human’, sought to address the human sciences’ most central, and yet

most frustratingly illusive, subject of inquiry – the human itself. The death of the human as a philosophical and scientific category has been endlessly prophesised and postponed over the years, from Michel Foucault’s oft-repeated prediction of man ‘erased, like a face drawn in the sand at the edge of the sea’ (Foucault, 1966) to more recent concerns regarding the supposed overthrow of ‘selfhood’ by ‘brainhood’ facilitated by the emergent neurosciences (Vidal, 2009). Discussions among historians and human scientists about the uncertain ontological status of the human clearly continue to foster the kind of passionate and provocative disagreement that the event’s organisers had hoped for. In the first paper, ‘Resisting Neurosciences and Sustaining History’, Roger Smith (Emiritus Reader in the History of Science, Lancaster) expresses his scepticism regarding the supposed novelty and radical impact of the neurosciences on conventional ideas of the human. Rather, Smith argues, materialist explanations for sentience have been present since the nineteenth-century and have had…