Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

CALL FOR INTEREST IN MSCA-POSTDOCTORAL FELLOWSHIP : Psychiatry of migration. The social and scientific origins of a new medical approach (France 1920-1960)

    16/07/2021 00:00 - Europe/Brussels
    HE / MSCA
    France, LE MANS
    Le Mans Université
    Temps, Mondes, Sociétés (TEMOS)- UMR CNRS 9016

Le Mans University is looking for excellent postdoctoral researchers for building together an innovative application for an independant research fellowship to the next call (October 2021) of the Marie-Skłodowska Curie Actions - Postdoctoral Fellowships programme. MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowships offer a rare opportunity to talented scientists: the chance to set up a research programme of their own. They provide an attractive grant for 1 to 2 years including salaries (with social care included) and allowances for mobility, family and research.

The deadline of the proposal submission to the EU funding and tender portal will be in October 2021; details can be found on the call for proposal MSCA-PF webpage.

The topic and team below have been identified for welcoming you to develop your research project at Le Mans University and helping you to write a persuasive proposal for the European submission.

General description of the research topic:

Keywords: Medicine, History, Psychiatry and psychology, Migration, Health, XXth century.

Research field : History / Contemporary History

Context :

Since the history of psychiatry became academic, it has focused on the 19th century and more recently on the transformations that initiated new forms of care for mental illnesses from the 1960s. The period of the first half of the 20th century remains relatively unknown and yet it is marked by the impact of the Great War and the emergence of new questions brought about by the new practices and ideas of mental hygiene and social psychiatry. Among these, the question of the mental health of migrants occupies an important but little studied place.

Before the Great War, the forms of uprooting that worried doctors concerned mainly young people from the countryside who migrated to the city, or the soldiers of the colonial armies affected by nostalgia. But in France, the bloodletting of the Great War, which accelerated the use of foreign labor, changed the situation. In the 1920s, migrants from Central and Eastern Europe and Italy numbered in the millions, some of whom populated the asylums between the wars. Migration became a public health issue in France in the first half of the 20th century. After the Second World War, studies on transplantation pathologies multiplied, especially from the description of the experience of North African migrants. Today, this question feeds the reflections of health care professionals who are often confronted with new traumatic migratory experiences.

The project aims to understand the construction of a new medical view of these populations in a context of institutional and political crisis. The asylum for the insane was once again in difficulty in the 1930s due to the social crisis and dramatic overcrowding. The migrants who were hospitalized in these institutions suffered a double punishment because of the linguistic and social problems that were specific to them. French medicine, won over by racialist and xenophobic ideology, produces scholarly works on these migrants that have an impact on the assessment of the phenomenon. For example, Dr. René Martial and the psychoanalyst Georges Mauco, members of the Committee for the Study of the Problem of Foreigners, contributed to the politicization of this question and fed the Vichy policy towards them.

The project will explore the social and scientific origins of a new medical approach (France 1920-1960) to migration through three scales and three types of archives. The first one, micro historical, will reconstitute the international and institutional path of some migrants from patient files kept in already identified and accessible archives (psychiatric hospital of Le Mans - Arch Dép Sarthe; Asile de maison Blanche - Arch Dép Paris). The second will consider the phenomenon on a national scale, based on statistical and administrative data collected in the National Archives located in Paris (psychiatric office of the Ministry of Health, 1935-1976; Social Service for the Assistance of Emigrants). The third section will focus on a few socially situated practices and discourses through archives located in Paris : the work of the members of the Committee for the Study of the Problem of Foreigners (Mauco collection), the Minkowska dispensary (1951-1962), and the work of the INH on North African migrants (National Institute of Hygiene collection). The WHO archives (Geneva) could be used to understand how international institutions take into account this new dimension of the migrant experience. The topic that concerns the migrant experience and its medical interpretation is transnational by itself but a transnational scale could be added to the project and developed according to the specific competences of the applicant for the grant.

For a first approach of the question look at :

  • GUILLEMAIN H., Schizophrènes au XXe siècle. Des effets secondaires de l’histoire, Alma éditeur, 2018 (« Migrants dans la crise des années 1930 », chapitre IV)
  • MAJERUS B. et RICHEL J., « “L’invention” de l’immigré. La psychiatrie belge face à la migration maghrébine dans les années 1960 et 1970 », Le Mouvement social, 1/242, 2013, p. 31-44.
  • MAHIEU E. et RECA M., « Exil et migration », L’information psychiatrique, 83/9, nov. 2007, p. 733-735.
  • LARBIOU B., « René Martial, 1873-1955. De l'hygiénisme à la raciologie, une trajectoire possible », Genèses, 2005/3 (no 60), p. 98-120.
  • WEIL P., « Georges Mauco, expert en immigration : ethnoracisme pratique et antisémitisme fielleux », dans Pierre-André Taguieff, L'antisémitisme de plume 1940-1944, études et documents, Paris, Berg International, 1999, p. 267-276.


Methodology :

- Examination of the national archives

- Selection of files in the hospital collections likely to give rise to a micro-historical approach to the international and institutional path of migrants.

- Consultation of medical journals on the subject

- Elaboration of statistical data on the period 1920-1960

- Writing of texts reconstructing the paths of some migrants and the medical view of them.

- Valorization and dissemination of the research to the professional world of psychiatry and within the framework of the DicoPolHiS project (Political Dictionary of Health History): http://dicopolhis.univ-lemans.fr/fr/index.html.


Scientific objectives:

(1) to show how a new object of interest in the field of psychiatry was constructed, that of migrants between the 1920s and 1960s,

(2) to understand the social and political issues that influence the medical view of these new populations in psychiatry, and

(3) to reconstruct the reality of the phenomenon on various scales (transnational and institutional pathways of individuals, macro statistics, studies of institutions and discourses). This research is therefore situated at the crossroads of several historiographic fields: social history, history of science, psychiatry and psychology, demography, and the study of migration.


Career Objectives:

The field of research concerning migration psychiatry is still not widely available in the academic field. The applicant will therefore be quickly identified as a specialist and will gain new perspectives based on the skills developed during the contract. The post-doctoral researcher will be well positioned to apply for faculty positions in the field of health and migration studies, a field that is currently at the heart of social priorities. He/she will also have the skills necessary to seize employment opportunities in the public and private sectors related to this field; staff of associations; national administrations. Participation in the international editorial development of the DicoPolHiS project will complement his skills in the field of digital publishing and communication, skills that are highly valued by universities today.

Supervisor: Hervé GUILLEMAIN

Academic position:

Professor of Contemporary History - Le Mans University

Director of the History Department of Le Mans University

Leader of the axis 1 of the laboratory TEMOS UMR CNRS 9016 (http://temos.cnrs.fr)

Director of the DicoPolHiS ( http://dicopolhis.univ-lemans.fr/fr/index.html)


Main topics: History, Psychiatry and psychology, Migration, Therapeutics, Asylum, Political history of health, XXth century, Patient's view.


Scientific profile

As a specialist in the social history of madness and psychiatry in the twentieth century, I have published several works proposing a new approach from below. These works, which mobilize French and international colleagues, cover the history of the twentieth century from the Great War (From the Front to the Asylum 2013) to the 1960s-1980s (The End of the Asylum? 2018). In 2018 I was the author of a double award-winning book recognized in the medical and humanities community (Prescrire, L'Evolution psychiatrique) proposing a new historiographic approach to psychiatric classification (Schizophrenics in the 20th century. Side effects of history) based on a history centered on the patient's perspective. I have presented this work in French and English in numerous international conferences: Argentina (La Plata, Cordoba), United States (New York), Canada (Montreal, Ottawa), Lebanon (Jounieh), Switzerland (Lausanne, Geneva), Belgium (Leuven, Louvain-la-Neuve). I am a member of the editorial board of the only French-language journal on the history of health in Europe, Histoire, médecine et santé, and I am also a member of the board of the European Association for History of Medicine and Health. I am the director of DicoPolHiS (Dictionnaire Politique d'Histoire de la Santé), a multimedia platform available internationally (Dicopolhis english). I was the French referee for Maia Woolner's dissertation, Time to Cure: Psychiatry, Psychology, and Mental Health Care in France, 1870-1940, Fullbright Fellowship, PhD UCLA, 2020. I direct several PhDs on the history of health and psychiatry that will be a think tank in which the candidate will benefit from participating.


References :

2018 Schizophrènes au XXe siècle. Des effets secondaires de l’histoire, Alma éditeur.

2018 La fin de l’asile ? Histoire de la déshospitalisation psychiatrique dans l’espace francophone au XXe siècle, PUR (avec A. Klein et MC Thifault).

2016 – « L’Histoire en délires. Usage des écrits délirants dans la pratique historienne », dans Perreault I. Thifault M.C. Récits inachevés. Réflexions sur la recherche qualitative en sciences humaines, Ottawa. Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa, p. 177-200 (avec L. Guignard)

2016 - « Towards a Contemporary Historiography of Amateurs in Science (18th-20th Century) », Gesnerus, 2016, 73-2, p. 201-237 (avec N. Richard)

2016 - « Des institutions privées d’histoire. Enquête sur les archives d’entreprises capitalistes dédiées à la gestion de la folie (France, 1930-1950) », Santé mentale au Québec, Automne 2016/2, p. 101-118

2015 – « « La psychose est-elle le fruit de l’histoire ? A propos des crises de septembre 1938 et de l’exode de mai-juin 1940 », Guerres mondiales et conflits contemporains, PUF, n° 257, 2015, p. 37-52.

2014 Extension du domaine psy, PUF/Vie des idées.

2013, Du front à l’asile, Alma éditeur (avec S. Tison), 2013.

2013 Expériences de la folie. Criminels, soldats, patients en psychiatrie, PUR, (avec L. Guignard et S. Tison)


Eligibility criteria

  • By the time of the MSCA PF indicative deadline (15 September 2021), applicants must be in possession of a doctoral degree and should not have more than 8 years full-time equivalent research experience (career breaks and leaves will not count towards this experience).
  • Applicants can be of any nationality but must not have resided and/or worked more than 12 months in France in the 3 years immediately prior to MSCA deadline.
  • Publications: at least 1 per year as 1st author since the PhD award.


Selection process

We encourage all motivated post-docs to apply on EU Euraxess platform, as early as possible and at least before the 16th of July 2021. Your application will include :

  • a CV including : (i) the exact date of your stay in each position and/or country and (ii) a list of publications;
  • a research outline document (up to 2 pages) identifying the research synergies with the faculty members / pre-identified topics.
  • The application should be sent by email to: herve.guillemain@univ-lemans.fr.

Following the reception of your application, we will check the eligibility of your profile for a MSCA-PF application. Then, supervisor(s) will select the most promising applications regarding the excellence-based competitive conditions and evaluation criteria of the MSCA-PF program and contact them in due course for further discussions and proposal writing until October 2021. If funded, the project proposed in October 2021 could start from September 2022 onwards.

To be crystal clear, this is the responsibility of the fellow to develop and write his/her own application proposal, but the supervisor will be deeply involved in the co-writing of the proposal and you will also receive dedicated support from the European office to write a persuasive proposal in a continuous follow-up process.


The responsibility for the hosting offers published on this website, including the hosting description, lies entirely with the publishing institutions. The application is handled uniquely by the employer, who is also fully responsible for the recruitment and selection processes.