The Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften: Events
Thursday, 29 June 2023, 11:00
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften, Am Wingertsberg 4, 61348 Bad Homburg
Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University
Frank Stahnisch (University of Calgary)»Great Minds in Despair – The Forced Migration of German-Speaking Neuroscientists to North America«
Frank W. Stahnisch holds the »Alberta Medical Foundation/Hannah Professorship in the History of Medicine and Health Care« at the University of Calgary and is an Editor-in-Chief of the international Journal of the History of the Neurosciences. In the summer term 2023, he is at the invitation of the Director of the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften Matthias Lutz-Bachmann a Fellow at the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften.
In history of science and migration history, the so-called »Brain Gain Thesis« is often taken as an unquestioned given in scholarly accounts of the forced migration wave of Jewish and politically oppositional physicians and medical researchers following the Nazis’ rise to power in 1933 and the beginning of the »Third Reich«. Research literature on the receiving countries, such as Canada and the United States has primarily tended to take the intellectual, academic, and institutional dimensions of the forced migration wave into account, while the individual fate and adaptation problems of many émigré researchers and scholars are still considerably under-investigated. While examining the historical case of the development of the modern neurosciences (here as one of several important examples of biomedical research), this talk and the related monograph look at the fate of a group of German and Austrian émigré physicians and biomedical researchers, who could be classified as early ‘neuroscientists’ and who immigrated to North America either transitionally or for good.
The thesis that will be examined here refers in particular to the fact that the process of forced migration often resulted in drastic challenges and changes in the career plans and prospects of the respective émigré researchers and medical scholars. This ranges from a complete interruption of their careers (e.g. in the cases of neuroophthalmologist Caesar Hirsch, 1880-1940, and neuropsychologist Eva Goldstein-Rothmann, 1897-1960), to a change of career angles (as in the biographies of neuropathologist Karl Stern, 1906-1975, and neurologist Wilhelm G. Niederland, 1904-1993); yet also translated into the creation of new fields abroad (viz. the emergence of the neurohistory area through the contribution of Austrian neurologist Franz Schiller, 1909-2003, and German neurologist Walter Riese, 1890-1976).
Based on some of the statistical findings from the overall research project, this talk will further reflect on the dichotomy of »revolutionary science« versus »normal science«, the impact of educational and clinical contributions vis-à-vis laboratory research, the role of assistance groups and national funding agencies, categories of age, sex, and career advancement among émigré neuroscientists, as well as their roles (or lack thereof) in remigration processes during the postwar period.
With a view to the examined historical data and sources, it is intended to show that the »Brain Gain Thesis« needs to be significantly revised. Such a change of historiographical perspective affects both the methodology of understanding the internationalization of medical research as well as the methodology of forced migration studies at large.
Participation and registration
Closed event. For participation on site, please register in advance (contact: Beate Sutterlüty; email: email@example.com).