History of bicycling and bicycle policies
History of psychiatry and mental health care
History of citizenship and health (care)
History of sexuality and gender
History of citizenship
Bicycling and bicycle policies from the perspective of international comparison and cultural history
From the First World War until the 1960s, the bicycle was a popular means of individual transport all over Europe. After the volume of bicycle traffic peaked in the 1950s, it was rapidly outstripped by motoring. In many countries the share of the car in the total number of traffic movements (modal share or modal split) would surpass that of the bicycle by around 1960 – a development that came about slightly earlier in the United States. Growing prosperity fostered car-ownership and driving, while post-World War II traffic policies cleared the way for the dominance of the car on the roads. Urban sprawl and the up-scaling of town and country planning entailed that the number and distances of daily trips increased. Technocratic policymakers, urban planners and traffic engineers viewed motoring as inevitable progress and economic growth. The bicycle was discredited as an old-fashioned, slow and unsafe means of transport that hampered freer circulation of traffic. Insofar cycle paths had been put in already, they were increasingly neglected if not dismantled in order to make room for moving and parked cars. Cycling also suffered from a loss of social status: those without a driver’s license or who could not afford a car (lower income groups, youngsters, students and women) cycled out of sheer necessity.
In the 1960s and early 1970s, bicycle use seemed headed for an all-time low. Since the 1970s, however, it has managed to regain support from the general public as well as from governments. The energy crisis, worries about environmental pollution and traffic congestion as well as criticisms of large-scale and ‘inhuman’ technological systems, triggered bicycle activism and new bicycle policies. In ‘alternative’ ideologies and countercultures, bicycles acquired the status of perfect means of transportation, an unmatched example of ‘suitable technology’ and of energy- and environmentally-conscious application of ‘human power’. The modal share of the bicycle increased again, in some countries and cities more sharply than in others, but nowhere did it reach the pre-1960s level. Over the last two or three decades, national governments and cities throughout the Western world, from Finland to Australia and the Unites States to Austria, as well as the European Union, have launched ambitious policy statements and programs aimed at promoting cycling.
In this context, policy documents increasingly began to picture the bicycle as a clean, silent, sustainable, healthy, flexible, inexpensive and democratic means of transport that may contribute to solving an array of problems, such as traffic congestion and unsafety, environmental and noise pollution, the spilling of energy sources, ill health and welfare diseases, social exclusion and feelings of insecurity in public urban spaces. Policymakers seemed quite optimistic about the possibilities to increase the bike’s modal share in daily transport by means of infrastructural and social engineering, and programs for bicycle promotion. It is striking perhaps that new bicycle policies were introduced not only in countries with relatively high levels of bicycle use (Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Belgium (Flanders) and Finland, and, to a lesser extent, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland), but also in countries with low levels of bicycle use (Great Britain, the United States and Australia). By contrast, in countries in the Southern and Eastern part of Europe, bicycle policies, if in place at all, have hardly showed any further development in recent decades.
The policy rhetoric and the arguments reinforcing cycling policies tend to be similar in most countries, but the implementation of policy plans and the actual modal share of the bicycle in passenger transport reveal significant and often persistent differences between countries. Around 2000 the bicycle’s modal split amounted to 27 percent in the Netherlands and 20 percent in Denmark. It varied between 7 and 12 percent in Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland; between 4 and 5 percent in Italy, France and Norway; and between 2 and 3 percent in Great Britain, Canada, Ireland and the Czech Republic. And it stagnated at around 1 percent in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal and Greece. The annual distance traveled by bike per capita in kilometers fluctuated between 850 and 1020 in the Netherlands and Denmark; between 250 and 330 in Belgium, Germany, Sweden and Finland; between 140 and 230 in Ireland, Italy and Austria, between 70 and 100 in France, Great Britain and Greece; while it did not reach 50 in Portugal and Spain. Whereas all residents of the Netherlands and Denmark, on average, have a bicycle, the same goes for 3 out of 4 Germans; 2 out of 3 Swedes and Fins; about 1 out of 2 Belgians, Italians and Austrians; 1 out of 3 Frenchmen and British; 1 out of 4 Portuguese; and 1 out of 5 Spaniards.
These considerable differences in levels of bicycle use and ownership between nations raise several questions. For one thing, why do significantly more people bicycle in some countries? Is it possible to explain differences in the frequency of bicycle-use on the basis of geographical and climatological conditions, environmental planning and traffic infrastructure, composition of the population, habits with respect to passenger transport, and/or the image and appreciation of the bike? Are policies useful tools for promoting cycling and what is the impact of particular policy measures in various countries?
In this project I consider these various questions and concerns on the basis of social-scientific and historical bicycle studies as well as policy documents. I argue that these studies and also the bicycle policy documents leave several of the questions unanswered, which justifies a critical consideration of some of their basic assumptions. The cultural-historical and national dimension of cycling has largely been ignored in policy-oriented bicycle studies as well as in policy-making. My claim is that cultural-historical and national contexts are highly relevant for explaining international differences in both levels of bicycling and the effectiveness of bicycle policies. Specifically, this will be demonstrated by comparing national bicycle cultures in English-speaking countries and Germany versus those in the Netherlands and Denmark. In this way, this project seeks to bridge the gap between bicycle policies and the interrelated social scientific research on the one hand and cultural and historical research of bicycling on the other.
The internationally comparative history of forensic psychiatry
This project in co-operation with dr. Arlie Loughnan (University of Sydney, Australia) aims for an internationally comparative volume on the twentieth history of forensic psychiatry and criminology. The planned volume including broad overviews as well as some detailed case-studies, is the result of a series of international conferences and workshops.
Whereas most historical studies on forensic psychiatry and criminology are about the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, we think it is time to focus more on the twentieth century, on which synthetic, comprehensive national studies are still thin on the ground, and systematic and contextual comparative research is lacking.
The overall aims of this collection are:
1. to offer broad overviews of the development of forensic psychiatry (including legal and psychiatric discourses, theories, and ideas; penal and psychiatric practices and institutions; and socio-political contexts) in several Western countries during the 'long' twentieth century (including the late nineteenth century);
2. to develop an internationally comparative perspective on the twentieth-century history of forensic psychiatry. Which similarities, differences and contrasts can be discovered between countries?
In general, comparative research is most rewarding when it is problem-orientated and when the various national overviews have a similar focus. The main questions, themes and points of interest that serve as a guideline for the national overviews and comparative perspective in this collection are:
- When and how did forensic psychiatry establish itself in the legal system and which legal rules were adopted for dealing with mentally disturbed delinquents? Did forensic psychiatric patients fall under a special jurisdiction and state supervision?
- What were the boundaries of the forensic-psychiatric domain and who were affected by forensic psychiatry? Who populated the border area between criminal law and psychiatry (suspects declared to be of unsound mind, detainees with mental disorders and dangerous insane persons)? What were the number of delinquents affected and the offences for which they were tried and possibly treated? What was the role of medical criteria and social, political, administrative, and financial considerations as well as class and gender relations? Do we have information on delinquent's perspectives of (the practice of) forensic psychiatry?
- What was the impact of the so-called New Direction in legal thinking as well as Italian and French criminal anthropology? Which other theories and philosophies influenced forensic psychiatry?
- The debates between and among physicians and legal experts on the proper approach of mentally disturbed offenders. What was the relation between legal and medical discourses, between punishment and treatment? What were the motives of psychiatrists to push their professional domain towards the practice of criminal law and what were the motives of lawyers to either accept or reject psychiatric expertise in courts?
- The (differing and changing) meanings of (full and more or less diminished) irresponsibility or unsound mind and their consequences.
- What was the place of forensic psychiatry in the broader field of medicine, psychiatry, mental health care, and social work and rehabilitation? Apart from psychiatrists and lawyers, were other professions (psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, specialist therapists, rehabilitation experts, police and prison officials) involved in forensic regimes of power and knowledge?
- How did psychiatrists (and other experts) diagnose and explain criminal insanity (biomedical, psychological, and social approaches) and how did they treat mentally disturbed offenders?
- Forensic-psychiatric institutions and other therapeutic (outpatient) facilities, their place in the legal and penal system and in psychiatry at large, and their (therapeutic) regimes.
- What was the relation between ideas or ideals, rhetoric, norms, intentions, and plans with respect to forensic psychiatry on the one hand, and what was actually realised on the other?
- The public and political interest in forensic psychiatry.
- How can developments in forensic psychiatry be understood against the background of the wider socio-political context, in particular the social climate with respect to law, order, and authority, as well as to the development of the intervention and welfare state and notions about civil rights and democratic citizenship?
- How should the development of forensic psychiatry be interpreted? In terms of a hardening or a humanisation of the administration of criminal law, of social exclusion or inclusion, of disciplining or emancipation - especially against the background of the tension between on the one hand the collective aim of the protection of society (prevention, social security, surveillance, social hygiene) and on the other a differentiated and individualised assessment of offenders, whereby the accent shifted from punishing to treatment and rehabilitation? What was the role of forensic psychiatry in the management of (ab)normality? What was the legal status of convicts/patients in forensic-psychiatric institutions and/or outpatient treatment?
- Periodisation: to what extent can continuity and discontinuity, ruptures or watersheds be discerned in the development of forensic psychiatry in different countries?
The History of Health and Citizenship
This project in co-operation with dr. Frank Huisman (Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht / Maastricht University) aims for a volume on Health and Citizenship: Political Cultures of Health in Britain, Germany and the Low Countries.
Since the 1980s the modern welfare state is under attack. For the first time in its history, there is a strong and widespread feeling that the state should withdraw – in part or even altogether - from the public domain. After a century of growing state intervention in the social-economic domain, there appears to be a general feeling, both on the left and the right of the political spectrum, that the welfare state has become almost omnipresent. This is said to have led to a passive, consumerist and dependant population, relying on care from the cradle to the grave and, secondly, to an overloaded bureaucratic system that is no longer affordable in a competitive global economy. Collective arrangements are being critically reconsidered; consequently, they are either reformed, or abolished or left to ‘the market’.
However, these changes entail new problems and questions. Rationalisation and commercialisation involve a new managerial class taking over control from professionals and creating new, and (in the public view) opaque bureaucracies that withdraw from democratic control. Costs may rise, and as far as solidarity and responsibility are concerned, the emphasis is shifting from the collective to the individual, from passive citizenship (social rights) to active citizenship (individual responsibility), and from democratic control to market forces. The ‘neo-liberal revolution’ in the Western world not only has social and economic dimensions, but political and moral ones as well. In this respect, there have been gains and losses. Whereas it may be considered beneficial that people are challenged to think afresh about their role as citizens with an awareness of their democratic rights and duties, the decline of the welfare state has resulted in a crisis of citizen confidence in the state and in democracy. Because our very concept of civil society is at stake, a historical reflection on the relationship between state and citizen in the public domain seems urgent.
An important domain in which the relationship between citizens and the state is currently being reconsidered is health care. Over the last decades, costs have increased due to improved technological possibilities, the rise of chronic disease and the aging of the population. As a result, the last decade has witnessed heated political debates with regard to the organization and financing of national health care systems. In many countries, the state is withdrawing, pointing at the individual responsibilities of citizens, reversing state intervention and expecting much - if not all - of market dynamics. This can be said to be a reversal of a process that originated in the nineteenth century. Health care was among the first social domains in which state intervention took shape. More than a hundred years ago, the same questions with regard to the relation between citizen and state were asked: was the state allowed to interfere with the lives of its citizens? If so, to what extent was it responsible for their health? How far did individual responsibility of citizens go? What did citizen rights mean in this context? Was it the right to stay free from state intervention? Or the right to collective arrangements in the field of health care? Then as now, there is a strong feeling that these questions are relevant. It is therefore surprising that the connection between ‘health and citizenship’ has never been researched by medical historians. This volume aims to do just that.
We suggest that national health care systems are embedded in and reflect different national traditions of state-craft and citizenship that are subject to change over time. Health and disease concern key-issues like life and death, collective and individual well-being, coercion and liberty, professionalism and self-help, commercialism and social security, and humanitarianism and technocracy. For this reason, we would qualify the health care system of a particular country as a pars pro toto for the more general conceptualisation of the role of the state, civil society and individual citizens.
Our call for reflection on citizenship and health (care) does not of course imply that we claim that knowledge of the past leads to clear-cut political prescriptions for the present. The proposed volume does not intend to ‘solve’ current socio-political problems, but rather to analyse different national traditions of health care (the British, German, Dutch, and Belgian), using a concept that is suggested by contemporary developments. As is indicated in the Introduction, both ‘health’ and ‘citizenship’ have several meanings and connotations, which partly coincide with historical developments in the last two centuries. The current crisis of the nation state has made us aware of the urgency of such questions as: What draws a body of citizens together into a coherently organised political community? What keeps that allegiance stable and meaningful to its participants?
In the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, medicine and politics became mutually entwined to an increasing extent in many Western countries. Having said that, it may very well be that national cultures are not as homogeneous as we tend to think, and that social cohesion is shaped at the level of groups or subcultures. What was the role of the state in (public and individual) health care? What was the relationship between conceptions of (democratic) citizenship and the definition of health and illness and the practice of health care? What was the relationship between state, democratic citizenship and professional expertise? Did citizens play an active role in defining health and illness and in individual and public health care, and, if so, in what way? How were the responsibilities of state, civil society and individual citizens delineated as far as health and illness were concerned? Did the framing of health and disease and the health care system contribute to or impede the shaping of democratic citizenship? Did the relationship between health and citizenship change? If so, in what way and why?
The Disordered Mind. Cultures of Psychiatry and Mental Health Care in Dutch Society (1900-2000)
This is an elaborate research project, which is partly financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and in which researchers at the universities of Amsterdam, Maastricht and Utrecht as well as the Trimbos-institute have participated. The aim of the project is to study the twentieth-century history of psychiatry and mental health care in the Netherlands from a social and cultural angle and to situate it in an international and comparative context. Specific projects are geared towards subjects like the development of the psychiatric profession, psychiatric nursing, patients in mental institutions, the influence of the anti-psychiatry movement, the development of a market for and funding of mental health care and alternative treatments, social and cultural critique in psychiatry, academic psychiatry, social psychiatry, and the movement for public mental health care.
One of the distinctive features of the development of Dutch psychiatry in the twentieth century is the enormous expansion of its professional domain. While in the nineteenth century psychiatry's reach was mainly restricted to the confines of the mental institution, in the course of the twentieth century psychiatrists began to be professionally active at universities, in psychiatric clinics and psychiatric wards of general hospitals, in social psychiatry, in various out-patient facilities for mental health care, in the army, in rehabilitation programmes, in education, in providing care to alcohol and drug addicts, in the area of forensic psychiatry, in private practices and in management positions. Since the Second World War in particular, an extensive mental health care network has emerged outside of the institutions and hospitals. Psychiatry, originally only a medical specialism, thus became an integral part of a broad interdisciplinary care sector, in which the boundaries of what counts as a mental disorder have increasingly been extended. Consequently, entirely new groups of patients and clients were constantly drawn into psychiatry's professional domain.
A basic concern of our research project involves the interrelationships between, on the one hand, the institutional expansion and differentiation of the psychiatric domain, and, on the other hand, society's response to mental disorders and psychological problems, including the growing demand for mental health care. Twentieth-century psychiatry has undeniably left its mark on Dutch society and its view of human beings: increasingly, deviant behaviours and existential problems began to be understood in terms of mental disorders or psychic problems, processes which are also referred to as medicalisation and psychologisation. Yet it is evident as well that changing theories and practices in psychiatry are related to more general historical developments, such as increased prosperity, the rise of the welfare state, secularisation, changing power and dependency relationships among individuals, and emancipation and individualisation. These social, economic and cultural processes in turn influenced the development of psychiatric views and practices. The concrete goal of the project is to write a history of psychiatry in the Netherlands in which psychiatry’s cognitive content, intervention practices, organisation, and institutional, social and cultural settings are analysed in their mutual interrelatedness.
One of the basic assumptions of The Disordered Mind as an integrated research effort is that a close analysis of the developments in twentieth-century Dutch psychiatry also provides a rich opportunity to bring a number of characteristic aspects of modern Dutch culture and society into focus. An elaborate network of mental health care has been developed in the Netherlands since the 1960s, the size of which is substantial in comparison to that in most other Western countries. Comparatively many psychiatrists and other experts are active in this sector, while the Dutch population tends to make use of their services frequently and in ever larger numbers. Apparently, there is a strong tendency in the Netherlands to conceive of existential and behavioural problems in medical and psychological terms and it is therefore significant to ask to what extent this need can be explained by specific characteristics of Dutch society and culture. Answers may be related to the particular system of confessional traditions and their closely associated social and political organisations (a phenomenon also known as “pillarisation”); the typical tendency in Dutch social and political affairs to be geared toward discussion, consensus-building, compromise and tolerance; the particular identity of the Dutch welfare state in which providing aid, therapeutic treatment and social integration are given priority over coercion, punishment and social exclusion; and the far-reaching democratisation of Dutch public and private life since the 1960s.
But how does the development of twentieth-century Dutch psychiatry and mental health care compare to that in other countries? To what extent has there been a mutual influencing in this area between the Netherlands and other countries? In order to map the more or less specific character of the twentieth-century developments in Dutch psychiatry, the project aims for a juxtaposition of the social and cultural development of psychiatry in the Netherlands and the same or similar developments in other countries.
Psychopathia sexualis and the Modernization of Sexuality
The German-Austrian psychiatrist Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), author of the famous Psychopathia sexualis, played a key role in the historical construction of the modern concept of sexuality. By naming and classifying virtually all non-procreative sexuality, he was one of the first to synthesize medical knowledge of 'deviant' sexualities. Medical theories, such as Krafft-Ebing's, have played an important part in the making of sexual categories and identities. However, this does not necessarily mean that these were only scientific inventions and imposed from above by the power of organised medical opinion. Sexual identities were developed with the collaboration of the people concerned, who often furnished psychiatrists with the life stories and sexual experiences on which medical explanations were grounded. The correspondence, case histories and autobiographies of Krafft-Ebing's patients and informants suggest that new ways of understanding sexuality came about in a process of social interaction between so-called perverts, who contemplated on themselves, and physicians, who shaped psychiatry and delineated perversion as a medical field.
Most recent publications:
Oosterhuis, H. (2019). Albert Moll’s Ambivalence about Homosexuality and His Marginalization as a Sexual Pioneer. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 28(1), 1-43. https://doi.org/10.7560/JHS28101
Oosterhuis, H. (2019). Entrenched Habit or Fringe Mode: Comparing National Bicycle Policies, Cultures and Histories. In T. Männistö-Funk, & T. Myllyntaus (Eds.), Invisible Bicycle : Parallel Histories and Different Timelines (pp. 48-97). Brill. Technology and Change in History, Vol.. 15
Oosterhuis, H. (2018). Review of: Susan A. Ashley, "Misfits" in Fin-de-Siècle France and Italy: Anatomies of Difference. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. 2017. American Historical Review, 123(5), 1745-1746. https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/rhy297
Oosterhuis, H. (2018). Review of: Golub, Aaron, Melody L. Hoffmann, Adonia E. Lugo and Gerardo F. Sandoval, eds. (2016). Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation: Biking for all? London and New York: Routledge. Journal of Transport History, 39(3), 412-414. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022526618759497
Oosterhuis, H. (2018). The Pitfalls of Political Correctness in Writing Sexual History: Politics and the Study of Sexual Science: An exchange between Harry Oosterhuis and Ralph Leck. H-Net Reviews in the Humanities and Social Sciences, November.
aan de Stegge, G. J. C., & Oosterhuis, H. (2018). Psychiatric nursing in the Netherlands and Great Britain: class, status and gender in the making of a profession. Social History, 43(4), 455-483. https://doi.org/10.1080/03071022.2018.1520441
Oosterhuis, H. (2018). Review of: Reid, Carlton (2017). Bike Boom: The Unexpected Resurgence of Cycling. Washington, Covelo, London: Island Press. Journal of Transport History, 39(2), 268-270. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022526618754753
Oosterhuis, H. (2018). Review of: Halliwell, Martin, Voices of Mental Health: Medicine, Politics, and American Culture, 1970-2000. New Brunswick, Camden, and Newark, New Jersey, and London: Rutgers University Press, 2017. History of Psychiatry, 29(2), 249-250. https://doi.org/10.1177/0957154X18759470
Oosterhuis, H. (2018). Margaret Guroff, The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American Life (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2016), 295 pp., 10 black-and-white photographs, 5 black-and-white illustrations, $17.95 (paperback). Transfers. Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, 8(1), 150-152.
Oosterhuis, H. (2018). Melody L. Hoffmann, Bike Lanes Are White Lanes: Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016), 210 pp., $40 (paperback). Transfers. Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, 8(1), 150-152.
Books and edited volumes
Loughnan, Arlie & Harry Oosterhuis (Eds.) (2014). International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 37 (1), Special issue: Historical perspectives on forensic medicine.
Huisman, Frank & Harry Oosterhuis (Eds.) (2014). Health and Citizenship: Political Cultures of Health in Modern Europe. London/Brookfield: Pickering & Chatto.
Oosterhuis, Harry & Marijke Gijswijt-Hofstra (2008). Verward van geest en ander ongerief. Psychiatrie en geestelijke gezondheidszorg in Nederland (1870-2005) (3 Volumes) Houten: Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde/Bohn Stafleu Van Lochum.
Gijswijt-Hofstra, Marijke, Harry Oosterhuis, Joost Vijselaar & Hugh Freeman (Eds.) (2005). Psychiatric Cultures Compared. Psychiatry and Mental Health Care in the Twentieth Century: Comparisons and Approaches. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Oosterhuis, Harry and Michael Neve (Eds.) (2004). Social Psychiatry and Psychotherapy in the Twentieth Century: Anglo-Dutch-German Perspectives. Medical History 47/4.
Oosterhuis, Harry (2000). Stepchildren of Nature. Krafft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identity. Chicago & London: The University of Chicago Press.
Eder, Franz X., Gert Hekma & Harry Oosterhuis (Eds.) (1998). Homosexualitäten. Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften 9/3.
Hekma, Gert, Harry Oosterhuis & James Steakley (Eds.) (1995). Gay Men and the Sexual History of the Political Left. London & New York: The Haworth Press, Harrington Park Press.
Oosterhuis, Harry (1992). Homoseksualiteit in katholiek Nederland. Een sociale geschiedenis 1900-1970. Amsterdam: Sua.
Oosterhuis, Harry & Hubert Kennedy (1992). Homosexuality and Male Bonding in Pre-Nazi Germany. The Youth Movement, the Gay Movement and Male Bonding Before Hitler's Rise: Original Transcripts From Der Eigene, the First Gay Journal in the World. London & New York: The Haworth Press, Harrington Park Press.
Kolpa, Ronald, Harry Oosterhuis, Theo Schut & Lex van Vorselen (Eds.) (1985). Fascisme en homoseksualiteit. Amsterdam: Sua, De Woelrat.