History of Medicine Division Seminar
Co-sponsored by the Office of NIH History
Wednesday, May 7, 2008, 2-3:30pm
Lister Hill Visitor's Center Bldg 38A, NLM
"Finding Humanity in Rat City: John B. Calhoun's Experiments in Crowding at the NIMH."
Edmund Ramsden, London School of Economics and Exeter University
In a series of experiments at the National Institute of Mental Health from 1954-86, John B. Calhoun offered rats and mice everything they needed, except space. The resulting population explosion was followed by profound "social pathologies" such as violence, sexual deviance, and withdrawal; a "behavioral sink" culminating in extinction. While some were keen to see Calhoun's "rat cities" as evidence for what was going wrong with the American city, others cautioned against drawing strong
analogies between rodents and man. The ensuing dispute saw social and biomedical scientists involved in a careful negotiation of the boundary between human and non-human animals.
All are Welcome
Note: The next history of medicine seminar will be on Wednesday, June 11, 2-3:30pm in the Lister Hill Auditorium, NLM's Bldg 38A. In a special program for Asian American History Month, Judy Wu of the Ohio State University will speak on 'From White Woman's Burden to Orientalized Motherhood: The Strange Career of Dr. "Mom" Chung.'
Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities
who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen
Greenberg at (301-435-4995), e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or the
Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).
Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised
to consult the NIH Visitors and Security website:
Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD
Coordinator of Public Services
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health and Human Services