April 7, 2022

Dr. Frank W. Stahnisch delivers the Richardson Seminar at Cornell University, USA

A New Field in Mind: A History of Interdisciplinarity in the Early Brain Sciences
Stahnisch Richardson Seminar 2022

On April 6, 2022 Dr. Frank Stahnisch was invited to present the Richardson History of Psychiatry Research Seminar, Cornell University – Joan and Sanford I. Weill Medical College, New York (USA) at a virtual event. He presented findings from his recent book with McGill-Queen’s University Press (2020) to an interdisciplinary audience of historians, sociologists, psychiatrists, and neuroscientists. In "A New Field in Mind", Dr. Stahnisch documents and analyzes the antecedents of the modern neurosciences as an interdisciplinary field. Although postwar American research centres, such as Francis O. Schmitt's Neuroscience Research Program at MIT, brought the modern field to prominence, Stahnisch reveals the pioneering collaborations in the early brain sciences at centres in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland in the first half of the twentieth century. One of these, Heinrich Obersteiner's institute in Vienna, began its work in the 1880s. Through case studies and collective biographies, Stahnisch investigates the evolving relationships between disciplines - anatomy, neurology, psychiatry, physiology, serology, and neurosurgery - which created new epistemological and social contexts for brain research. He also shows how changing political conditions in Central Europe affected the development of the neurosciences, ultimately leading to the expulsion of many physicians and researchers under the Nazi regime and their migration to North America.”