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Neuro-empire: rise of a medical-scientific discipline in modern Japan

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The foundation of the Institute for Anatomy and Physiology of the Central Nervous System in Vienna in the year 1882 marks without a doubt the birth of neurology as a science based medical discipline. This paper attempts to answer the question why already after a short period of time a significant number of Japanese scholars visited the renowned Viennese laboratory. I argue that the appropriation of cutting-edge scientific knowledge by Japanese medical professionals not only altered the trajectories of adjacent medical disciplines like psychiatry, but at the same time promised solutions to a range of problems of the young modern Japanese nation on a national as well as international scale. Historians of science have extensively studied German influences on the formation of academia in Meiji-Japan (1868–1912), but have consistently overlooked an Austrian institution and the vital role it played in this process, a role possibly concealed in a tacit dimension.

This talk is part of the Twentieth Century Think Tank series.

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