The academic world in the Netherlands is abuzz with the government and the Association of Universities in the Netherlands’ (VSNU) firm position in negotiations with Elsevier. The push to open up academic literature to become freely accessible and reusable online, which is usually recognized under the umbrella term of Open Access, has become quite real for quite a few scholars. And some of them really don’t like it. What does Open Access mean for history of science, and the humanities in general? I decided to answer the call of Hans Schouwenburg and Pim Martens for ‘scientivistic’ engagement, and to write a short piece on this question – with quite a different position than Ad Maas’s last post on this on Shells & Pebbles. It is based on many of the talks heard at the symposium Rushing to Revolution: Open Access Models for Humanities Journals held at Utrecht University, and OpenCon 2014 organized by the Right to Research Coalition in Washington D.C. Laying somewhere in between a conference report and an opinion piece, I aim to give you some food for thought on what to do with the movement for the ‘open’ in the humanities.
Open access betekent ruim baan voor het digitale publiceren. Maar is alle wetenschap hier wel bij gebaat? Een pleidooi voor ‘slow science’ in de tijden van terabytes en 4G.
In 1998, the Australian professor of colonial medicine Warwick Anderson warned his readers that ‘[w]e should not assume that the colonial world was a passive receptacle for germ theories or any other form of Western medical knowledge’. Although Anderson meant that the arrival of new medical theories to the colonies led to changes that were often creative and at times unpredictable, his statement could be read somewhat differently. As the receptacle in Plato’s Timeaus, the ‘third kind’ the demiurge needed to realize the ideal Forms, the colonial world had a dynamics and structure of its own that at least challenged the universality claimed by western medicine. This, too, was the case with psychiatry. Faced with the culturally unknown, it became debatable whether diseases like hysteria, dementia paralytica and dementia praecox afflicted the ‘native mind’ in ways similar to the civilized West. But how do you diagnose someone whose language you don’t speak and culture you don’t know? This pebble shortly considers some attempts to solve that problem.
In order to keep in touch with what happens in historiography, I sometimes spend a few days reading the introductions of recent historical publications. In a relatively efficient way, it gives me the comfortable feeling that I am still aware of what historians claim they are doing. Sometimes, however, I remind myself to read the whole book if I get the chance; and once or twice, when I do get that chance, the book completely and utterly blows me away. This is what Daryn Lehoux’s What Did the Romans Know did to me, and in this post I hope to give you an impression of why it did and why you should read it too.