Balance, malleability and anthropology: historical contexts
prominent source of this notion of ‘culture’, later to be taken up by Boas, Malinowski, Mead and others. Although Rickert did classify the study of ‘primitive peoples’ as belonging to the natural sciences, his broad conception of culture functioned to ‘carve out the space in which twentieth century anthropology would be able to operate. It would be a study of cultural realities, rather than natural realities.’ Culture and nature are divided here in ‘an implacable epistemological separation’ that is not innate or inherent, but powerful nevertheless
Melissa Dickson, Emilie Taylor-Brown and Sally Shuttleworth
cultural critique and social observation, constructing the figure of the neurasthenic as one who both produces, and is produced by, the practices and structures of industrial modernity. Only the nineteenth century, Beard insisted, was capable of suffering from neurasthenia because, while other civilisations had undoubtedly experienced weak nerves and fatigue, it was this period alone that had produced the five elements which he believed inculcated such severe nervous exhaustion: ‘Steam power, the periodical press, the telegraph, the sciences, and the mental activity of
talent. The larger the organ, the greater the corresponding faculty, which could be measured by the size and shape of the skull. Thus, phrenology could explain the relative strengths and weaknesses of a person's mind and character. Although phrenology's claims were not substantiated by experimental scientific method, historians ofscience have traced the real and lasting impact of Gall's thinking, from the diffusion of scientific naturalism that prepared the public for Darwinian evolution, to its influence upon fields as diverse as psychology, physical anthropology
journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, of which Messer had become a fellow in 1877.
Messer's reports, and in particular his argument for ‘hysterical tetanus’, offer valuable evidence of the application of psycho-physiological theory to constructions of modern and civilised behaviour, civilisational progress, and mental illness in the late nineteenth century. However, the fate of Messer’s work also highlights the challenge which the emergence of germ
The French human sciences and the crafting of modern subjectivity,
these reflections, a new way of thinking about the human mind was formed, whose empirical study became a task for the emerging human sciences. According to Robert Wokler, they replaced the speculative anthropology and conjectural history of the eighteenth century.
One part of this project of creating an empirical knowledge system was a rearrangement of philosophical reflections about the human mind through the lens of medical and pedagogical expertise. When most administrative and pedagogical systems of the ancien
industry and empire have opened up the globe to an extent unknown to his ancestors, he feels more alone in the world than ever. For all of its promise, modern science has revealed ‘almost everything except what he most wanted to discover’.
All the effort that Seekleham has spent on his own progress, has only advanced him closer to oblivion. With less than half an hour of his life remaining, he is left reclining limply on a couch, disillusioned, dissatisfied, and above all, exhausted.
As he reaches
Narratives of balance and moderation at the limits of human
kinds of balance: moderation, physiological homeostasis and psychological stress responses. Through these case studies extreme environments emerge as sites where, firstly, notions of balance could be debated and reconstituted, and secondly where the white adult male's body became established as the norm for such research. This unquestioned centralisation of a very specific kind of body as a standard measure in balance research – particularly as it was a body not indigenous to extreme environments – had consequences for the practices of both science and exploration
Visualising obesity as a public health concern in 1970s and 1980s
campaign reached a large proportion of the population through its multi-media approach, and later evaluation studies suggested it was successful in securing more widespread awareness of the routes to ‘better health’.
The development of the ‘Look After Yourself’ campaign was the culmination of a major shift in public health that took place in the decades after the Second World War. The rise of risk factor epidemiology in Western medical science and its importation into health
, Killen and Leuenberger suggest, the human sciences were certainly integrated closely with European state infrastructures over the twentieth century, and both Fascist and communist regimes keenly promoted visions for ‘new men and women’ and sought to root out deviancy in their nascent states.
By contrast, recent work on the German Democratic Republic has sought to complicate assessments of the power dynamics and success of state programmes, and to explore the ways in which subjects of new states negotiated projects
Cancer, modernity, and decline in fin-de-siècle Britain
in part a product of chronology, and can be mapped on to a broader shift from environmental determinism to biological determinism in fin-de-siècle science and medicine. It is a hallmark of late nineteenth-century anthropology that race was believed to rest on material facts – ‘it is no arbitrary idea, no abstraction’.
Moreover, that certain races were inherently more or less vulnerable to certain diseases was a common concept in Victorian medicine. In his 1883 ‘Address in Pathology’, the parasitologist Charles