Steps Toward an Anthropology of the Human Subject in Experimental Psychology

Date/Time
Thursday
15 Mar 2012
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm




Location
470 Stephens Hall

Event Type
Colloquium

Emily Martin
New York University

Historians of psychology have described how the “introspection” of early Wundtian psychology largely came to be ruled out of experimental settings by the mid 20th century. In this paper I take a fresh look at the years before this process was complete — from the vantage point of early anthropological and psychological field expeditions. The psychological research conducted during and after the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits Islands (CAETS) in 1898 had a certain impact on Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, among other things, became an important commentator on experimental psychology. In his later writings, Wittgenstein frequently referred to “anthropological facts” and “anthropological phenomena.” He articulated some of the central tenets of cultural anthropological analysis. His efforts to move the ground of analysis from philosophy to anthropology take on greater force in the light of his acquaintance with the early history of anthropology. I will take this opportunity to reconsider the importance of the CAETS in the history of anthropology and to explore some possible ways of approaching experimental psychology ethnographically.

Emily Martin teaches anthropology at New York University. She is the author of The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction (Beacon Press 1987), and Flexible Bodies: Tracking Immunity in American Culture From the Days of Polio to the Age of AIDS (Beacon Press, 1994) and Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture (Princeton University Press, 2007). Her current work is on the history and ethnography of experimental psychology.

This event is sponsored by CSTMS.
Additional sponsorship comes from:  Berkeley Program in Science and Technology Studies • Office for the History of Science and Technology • Program for the Medical Humanities
Office for the History of Science and Technology

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