Skalevag, Svein Atle

Professor of History of Science

University of Bergen, Norway



Max Weber alumnus

Department of History and Civilization

Cohort(s): 2006/2007

Ph.D. Institution

University of Bergen, Norway


I am working on the history of psychiatry and medicine, with an emphasis on the knowledge claims of these disciplines. My approach is shaped by influences from the history of science, social history and cultural history, and of the writings of Michel Foucault in particular.

I wrote my masters thesis on the theoretical, therapeutic and architectural aspects of Norwegian psychiatry c 1850 – 1920. My Ph.D. thesis (Fra normalitetens historie. Sinnssykdom 1870 – 1920, submitted at the University of Bergen, accepted 2003) followed some of those themes in depth by studying the knowledge constructions in psychiatric case files and forensic psychiatric reports c 1870 – 1920, focusing on the very problematic notion of ‘mental illness’.

After the completion of the thesis I headed the application for funding for a joint research project on expertise in the court, involving a sociologist, a scholar in comparative literature, and myself. The project has received funding from the Norwegian research council over a period of four years. In these years I have functioned as the head of the project. My own research in this project has been an investigation of the meeting point between psychiatric and juridical epistemologies through the constructions and negotiations around the problem of legal accountability.

I have also been involved, locally, nationally and internationally, in various initiatives of network building in the field of medical history, history of psychiatry and law and literature.
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