The 1970s saw a resurgence of interest in the paranormal. In the mass media, as well as in academic and popular conferences across the world, metal-bending, telepathy, clairvoyance, and remote viewing were avidly debated. In subsequent decades, historians and sociologists have also shown an interest in the phenomena, using it to reflect on the social construction of scientific knowledge.
In this lecture, Joanna Bourke explores the social life of paranormal science in Birkbeck College and its links to radical critiques of scientific norms and practices. Para-physics provided a small group of scientists with a way to reflect on the three crises of politics emerging out of capitalism, the Cold War, and Stalinism.
Professor Joanna Bourke FBA, Professor of History, Birkbeck, University of London
Joanna Bourke FBA is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London. She is a prizewinning author of 13 books, on topics including histories of violence, war, pain, militarism, the emotions, and what it means to be human. She is the Principal Investigator of a 5-year Wellcome-Trust project entitled Sexual Violence, Medicine, and Psychiatry and is currently writing the history of Birkbeck, University of London, for its bicentenary in 2023.
Professor Richard J Evans FBA, Regius Professor of History, University of Cambridge
Find out more about the Raleigh Lecture on History.