Thesis ID: CBB300531084

Italian Psyche and Society: Politics and Networks in Italian Mind and Brain Science and Medicine, 1919–1939 (2021)


My dissertation argues that in interwar Italy the intellectual landscape of the mind and brain sciences, often marked by a state of creative turmoil, was as much a political and cultural enterprise as a scientific one. The impact of these sciences was far-reaching, as were the consequences of these scientists’ persecution by – and in some cases collaboration with – the Fascist regime. My dissertation investigates the mechanisms through which scientific inquiry and political ambition interfaced; and how research and ideology shaped one another, often taking the form of national and transnational networks of creativity and patronage. To elucidate such mechanisms, this dissertation draws from hitherto-neglected primary sources (memoirs, scientific and cultural journals, and creative works) to illuminate the professional and personal dimensions of the interwar experiences recorded by Italian neurology, psychiatry, psychology, and psychoanalysis. In so doing, it shifts the locus of the psy- and neurosciences from the mental asylum to the hospital, laboratory, and/or front (World War I and the colonial wars that preceded World War II, i.e., the Second Italo-Ethiopian War and Italy’s invasion of Albania) and attaches this narrative to a broader history of concepts as well as to larger discussions in which gender, ethnicity and race have arisen as productive categories of analysis. What emerges from such a close inspection is not just a clearer view of how these scientists (especially women and Jews) survived, suffered and/or thrived within an authoritarian society that simultaneously sought to harness and suppress their work, but also a view of how literature and art served as a mediator between the scientific and the political as well as between the scientist of the mind and brain, and the mind and brain itself.

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Authors & Contributors
Bonolis, Luisa
Canales Serrano, Antonio Francisco
Cassata, Francesco
Cesareo, Roberto
Dario, Mariopaolo
Evans, Bonnie
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
History of Psychiatry
History of Psychology
History of the Human Sciences
Palgrave Macmillan
Il Formichiere
Science and politics
Aloisi, Massimiliano
Collins, Wilkie
Gemelli, Agostino
Lysenko, Trofim Denisovich
Mira y López, Emilio
Mitchell, Silas Weir
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
Great Britain
Soviet Union
Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche

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