Bernhard Leitner
IFK_Junior Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. October 2016 bis 30. June 2017

Bernhard Leitner


Laboratory Vienna-Tokyo: On the Origins and Development of a Neuropsychiatric "Thought-Style" in Austria and Japan ca. 1900


The subject of this research project on the transnational history of science is how medical field relations between Austria and Japan affected the development of academic psychiatry in Tokyo and the production of knowledge in Vienna from the late 19th up until the early 20th century. At the heart of the analysis is the "thought-style" and the "thought collective" of the world’s first neurological institute in Vienna, with its numerous Japanese guest researchers, as well as the contact between founder Heinrich Obersteiner and Kure Shūzō, known as the “father of modern psychiatry in Japan.” Ludwik Fleck’s concept of “thought-style” and “thought collective” underline the social character of the organization's research activities. The goal of the project is to identify the conditions for the emergence of specific disciplinary structures by investigating an intercultural, international, political, and personal network of relations in a scientific exchange process.


Berhnard Leitner studied Japanese studies and philosophy at the University of Vienna and Tokyo Metropolitan University, and completed his degree with a thesis on the archaeology of modern psychiatry in Japan. His research interests include the history of medicine, science, and technology, as well as the philosophy of science. In 2015 he spent three months as a Toshiba International Foundation Fellow conducting research at the Central Medical Library and the archives at the University of Tokyo. From 2013-2016 he was a research associate and uni:docs Fellow in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Vienna. He is currently working on a dissertation project about scientific exchange in psychiatry and neurology between Austria and Japan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


„Zum Transfer von Psychiatrie: Narrative, Termini und transkulturelle Psychiatrie in Japan“, in: NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 22 (2014), Nr. 3, S. 163–180; „For Body, Mind and the Nation: An Archaeology of Modern Japanese Psychiatry“, in: Vienna Journal of East Asian Studies 5 (2014), S. 111–138; „Durch den Spiegel und was Nishida dort fand. Zur politischen Dimension des Anderen im Werk Nishida Kitarōs. Ein Spiel in fünf Akten“, in: Minikomi – Informationen des Akademischen Arbeitskreises Japan 81 (2011), S. 5–14.

  • Lecture
Bernhard Leitner

Die Gründung des Institutes für Anatomie und Physiologie des Zentralnervensystems durch Heinrich Obersteiner in Wien im Jahre 1882 kann zweifellos als Geburtsstunde der Neurologie betrachtet werden. Im Vortrag wird der Frage nachgegangen, warum in diesem Labor schon nach wenigen Jahren besonders viele japanische Psychiater tätig werden sollten.