N° 490
Émigré Psychiatrists, Psychologists, and Cognitive Scientists in North America since the Second World War
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The processes of long-term migration of physicians and scholars affect both the academic migrants and their receiving environments in often dramatic ways. On the one side, their encounter confronts two different knowledge traditions and personal values. On the other side, migrating scientists and academics are also confronted with foreign institutional, political, economic, and cultural frameworks when trying to establish their own ways of professional knowledge and cultural adjustments.

The twentieth century has been called the century of war and forced migration: it witnessed two devastating World Wars, which led to an exodus of physicians, scientists, and academics. Nazism and Fascism in the 1930s and 1940s, forced thousands of scientists and physicians away from their home institutions based in Central and Eastern Europe. “Did you ever go half way …” was a central question that all of them had to align with their personal consciousness, their family bonding, and the relationship to their academic peers. No one could leave without finding their individual answers to this existential question that lay at the bottom of their professional and scientific lives.

Following this general theme, the current special issue particularly reflects on the personal stories and institutional narratives of German-speaking scientists and physicians to North America since the 1930s, as a relevant case study from twentieth-century history of medicine and science. By drawing on diaries, questionnaires, institutional histories (including those of the Max Planck Society among others), novels, and personal estates, this special issue as a whole intends to emphasize the impact of forced migration from a North-American perspective by describing the general research topic; showing how the personal lives of many of these individuals were intertwined with their careers and choices of scientific topics, projects, and personal destinies. Moreover, this special issue seeks to explore whether new historiographical approaches can provide a deeper understanding of the impact of European émigré psychiatrists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists on emerging fields of medicine and science, including community and geriatric medicine, developmental neuroscience, and psychiatric traumatology to which the individuals in the respective cohort have strongly contributed in their new host countries.