New Site Wraps Arms Around Interdiscipline of ‘Human Sciences’

HistHum screen captureWhile many academic journal websites are mostly repositories for their digital archives, the interdisciplinary journal History of the Human Sciences has unveiled a new website — — that creates and expands the conversation around the interstices of the psychological, digital, and biological sciences which they term the ‘human sciences.’

In its ‘About Us’ page, the journal offers the following guide to the terrain it occupies and how it exists in that terrain:

Scholars are critically examining their traditional assumptions and preoccupations about human beings, societies, life, reason, animals, and minds, in light of developments and methodological transformations that cut across disciplinary boundaries. In light of this, we are interested not only in covering the history of established human sciences (including sociology, psychology, psychoanalysis, the neurosciences, anthropology, political science, philosophy, literary criticism, critical theory, art history, linguistics, and law), but exploring those of more recent ‘interdisciplines’ (such as the cognitive humanities, digital humanities, medical humanities, and all those fields prefaced with ‘neuro-‘).

The change comes as the journal, founded in 1988, welcomes a new set of editors: Felicity Callard of Durham University, and Rhodri Hayward and Angus Nicholls, both of Queen Mary University of London. The website’s editor is Des Fitzgerald, a lecturer in sociology at Cardiff University, and Chis Millard is the book review editor.

Writing in an essay on the website, the trio argues that the central problem of the human sciences — defining the category ‘human’ — remains unresolved, the journal in its 28th year and through 29 volumes embraces its mission as strongly as ever, especially as some impediments of old fall away. “In the last quarter century, the long-standing neglect, on the part of historians and philosophers of science, of the human sciences in comparison with the natural sciences has given way to an investigation of their often intertwined (as well as times opposed) epistemic projects, practices and commitments,” they write. “On the other hand, the porous boundary between the natural scientific approach pursued in many of the life sciences and the historical approach promoted by this journal has largely dissolved.”

According to Fitzgerald, the new “both complements what appears in the journal (such as interviews with authors of papers), while also providing novel series such as ‘Webflesh,’ which offers creative forms of artefactual and textual exegeses … As with any relationship with a good para-site, the editors are looking forward to potent exchanges in the future.” Taking advantage of the shorter, livelier, and more immediate digital format—all regular book reviews, for example, will appear on the website rather than in the journal — the website, he added, aims to diversify the voices that circulate in and around both the journal and the idea of the ‘history of the human sciences.’

Des Fitzgerald can be reached at

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