My work focuses on mental health and the psy-disciplines in transnational and comparative perspective. I have training in History and Science and Technology Studies, and have worked for many years on Central and Eastern Europe in the socialist context, focusing on psychiatry and medicine in Czechoslovakia and East Germany. More recently my collaborative work has also led me to examine anglophone and African contexts, particularly on Britain in the post-war period and post-independence Ghana.
I am a Lecturer in Modern History and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London, where I am also Director of the Birkbeck Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Mental Health. I am an Affiliated Scholar of the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge; and an Honorary Research Associate at UCL School of European Languages, Cultures & Societies.
My research on the Connecting Three Worlds Project takes Eastern Europe and West Africa as its starting points, examining intellectual and practical connections across the two continents in terms of exchange of knowledge and practice, training and development aid in health. I also lead the project’s mental health strand, ensuring that this theme is incorporated into the wider historiography of global health where it has sometimes been forgotten.
In addition to my academic research I an Editor of the journal History of the Human Sciences, and an International Advisory Board Member for the Czech Journal of Contemporary History. I have also collaborated with policy-makers, including the WHO Regional Office in Europe’s report on ‘Culture and Reform of Mental Healthcare in Central and Eastern Europe’, and a forthcoming policy briefing on Community Mental Health in collaboration with WHO Ghana Country Office.
‘Suggestion, Persuasion and Work: Psychotherapy in Communist Europe’, European Journal of Psychotherapy and Counselling, 20:1 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1080/13642537.2017.1421986
‘The Romani Minority, Coercive Sterilizations, and Languages of Denial in the Czech Lands’, History Workshop Journal, 84:1 (2017), pp. 128-148 https://doi.org/10.1093/hwj/dbx033
‘Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective’, History of the Human Sciences, vol. 30:2 (2017), pp. 3-16 http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0952695117703243
‘From Experimental Psychosis to Resolving Traumatic Pasts: Psychedelic Research in Communist Czechoslovakia, 1954-1974’ Cahiers du monde russe, 56 (2015), pp. 53-75 http://monderusse.revues.org/8165
Mat Savelli and Sarah Marks (eds) Psychiatry in Communist Europe (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2015).
‘Psychotherapy in Europe’, Special issue of History of the Human Sciences, vol. 31:4 (2018) https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/hhsa/31/4
‘Psychotherapy in Historical Perspective’, Special issue of History of the Human Sciences, vol. 30:2 (2017) http://journals.sagepub.com/toc/hhsa/30/2
‘A History of the Talking Cure’ in David Jones (ed.) Understanding Mental Health and Counselling. (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 2020).
(co-authored with Mat Savelli and Melissa Ricci) ‘The Long (or Short) History of Mental Health.’ in Mat Savelli, James Gillett and Gavin J. Andrews (eds) An Introduction to Mental Health and Illness. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020).
‘What difference has the opening of the archives since 1991 made to the historiography of Communism and the Cold War?’ In Jessica Reinisch and David Brydan (eds) Researching and Teaching Twentieth Century History. (London: The Historical Association, 2020)
(co-authored with Mat Savelli) ‘Communist Europe and Transnational Psychiatry’ in Mat Savelli and Sarah Marks (eds) Psychiatry in Communist Europe (London: Palgrave, 2015)
‘Ecology, Humanism and Mental Health in Communist Czechoslovakia’ in Mat Savelli and Sarah Marks (eds) Psychiatry in Communist Europe (London: Palgrave, 2015)
‘Psychologists as Therapists: Behavioural Traditions’ in John Hall, David Pilgrim and Graham Turpin (eds) Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives (Leicester: British Psychological Society, 2015)
‘CBT in Britain: Historical Development and Contemporary Situation’ in Windy Dryden (ed.) Cognitive Behaviour Therapies (London: Sage, 2012)
(contributor) WHO Regional Office in Europe, ‘Culture and Reform of Mental Health Care in Central and Eastern Europe.’ Geneva: World Health Organization, 2018. http://www.euro.who.int/en/publications/abstracts/culture-and-reform-of-mental-health-care-in-central-and-eastern-europe-2018
(co-authored with Charlie Williams and Daniel Pick) ‘The Hidden Persuaders’ 6-part digital story series commissioned for the Wellcome Collection website, September 2018 https://wellcomecollection.org/articles/W1bjRCYAACcAqvKh
(co-authored with Daniel Pick) ‘Radicalization: Lessons on Mind Control from the 1950s’ The World Today (magazine of Chatham House: The Royal Institute of International Affairs), February 2017 https://www.chathamhouse.org/publications/twt/lessons-mind-control-1950s