Politics of Death: A Global Examination of Psychiatry and Biopolitics (formerly: Madness, Medicine, and Mortalities - A Global History of Psychiatry in the Beginning of the Twentieth Century)


Wolfgang Stenzel (HWK)


Prof. Dr. Melanie Tanielian, University of Michigan (USA), former HWK/EURIAS Fellow
Dr. Ingo Harms (Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Foth, University of Ottawa (Canada, since November 2022)


  • Prof. Dr. Yucel Yanidag, University of Richmond (USA)
  • Prof. Dr. Thomas Foth, Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa (Canada)
  • Dr. Cecile aan de Stegge, Leiden (Netherlands)
  • Prof. Dr. Akihito Suzuki, Keio University (Japan)
  • Assoc. Prof. Dr. Eri Nakamura, Hiroshima University (Japan)
  • Prof. Dr. habil. Julia Barbara Köhne, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Germany)
  • Prof. Dr. Kylie M. Smith, Emory University (USA)
  • John M. Stienen, MSc, guest researcher at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute
  • Prof. Dr. Jason Crouthamel, Grand Valley State University (USA)



Statement of Problem

The broad focus of this Study Group is the development of psychiatry in the early twentieth century with a particular focus on the First World War as a generator of change in diagnosis treatment, as well as in public and state policies in regards to persons with mental illness. The group is interested in a global perspective to contribute to the existing scholarship that focuses heavily on the war’s effects on soldiers in the European theater of war. We wish to shift the focus geographically to include both the Ottoman Empire, the United States, and Canada (perhaps even Australia). What was the war’s effects on civilians in and outside of psychiatric hospitals? How did the war affect the developments in care and treatment of patients? How did the field of psychiatric medicine change as a result of the war? What legal and public health policies were generated by the war and what were their long-term effects? How did the war affect gender roles in care and treatment facilities?

Expected Products

The goal of the study group is an edited volume to be published in English with a University Press.


December 9 – 11, 2019: Kick-off
May 25 – 27, 2020 (cancelled due to pandemic)
April 19, 2021: virtual meeting
June 23, 2021: virtual meeting
December 1 – 3, 2021: virtual meeting
June 14 - 15, 2022: hybrid meeting
June 19 - 21, 2023: hybrid meeting


Harms, Ingo (2021): Der Verband. Anstaltsfürsorge zwischen Rassenhygiene, Bereicherung und Kommunalpolitik (Oldenburg 1924-1960). Juventa Verlag