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The range of theoretical, methodological and empirical papers included in this collection provide some critical insights into particular facets of the current research agendas, cultural understandings and empirical focus of ethnic minority ageing research.The main emphasis is on highlighting the ways in which ethnic cultural homogeneity and ‘otherness’ is often assumed in research involving older people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and how wider societal inequalities are concomitantly (re)produced, within (and through) research itself – for example, based on narrowly defined research agendas and questions; the assumed age and/or ethnic differences of researchers their older research participants; the workings of the formalised ethical procedures and frameworks; and the conceptual and theoretical frameworks employed in the formulation of research questions and interpretation of data. Since 1988 the awareness of the significance of these works for the history of psychiatry, psychology, psychical research, and hypnotism has greatly increased. Up to the time of its publication there was no annotated bibliography of the principal works in these interconnected fields, and the historical importance of mesmerism and its offshoots was largely unrecognized. Yet, for approximately seventy-five years from its beginnings in 1779, animal magnetism flourished as a medical and psychological specialty, and for another fifty years it continued to be a system of some influence.
The more Mesmer experimented, the more he became disenchanted with using iron magnets to heal. During that time there were many among both rich and poor who testified to being cured by animal magnetism, in some cases of long-term chronic illnesses.Paper presented at the conference Researching Ethnicity: What, Why and How? Animal magnetism, early hypnotism and psychical research, 1766–1925. That animal magnetism is no longer practiced is hardly surprising.In 1784 two commissions were constituted to investigate animal magnetism, both appointed by the king of France.
One was made up of members of the Royal Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine; it included some of the country’s most eminent scientists and functioned under the chairmanship of Benjamin Franklin (1700–1790), then the American ambassador to France.
This special issue focuses broadly upon questions and themes relating to the current conceptualisations, representations and use of ‘ethnicity’ (and ethnic minority experiences) within the field of social gerontology.