Managing insanity in settler contexts: Catharine Coleborne, Insanity, identity and empire: Immigrants and institutional confinement in Australia and New Zealand, 1873-1910, Manchester University Press, 2015


Description: This book examines the formation of colonial social identities inside the institutions for the insane in Australia and New Zealand. It looks at insanity in the context of migration to the colonies by focusing on two urban, public hospitals for the insane in the colonies of Victoria, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand, between 1873 and 1910. During this period, there was a significant amount of migration from Britain and other parts of the world to both destinations, as part of a widespread Anglo-settler ‘explosion’. This was also the period in which social institutional networks were developed across the Australasian colonies. These social institutions included health, medical, and welfare institutions, all of which were modelled on British imperial institutional spaces and with imperial sensibilities. This volume engages with two important scholarly projects: the examination of gendered and ‘raced’ bodies in the imperial world of the nineteenth century on the one hand, and on the other, a consideration of the imperial discourses of insanity and the formation of colonial institutional knowledge and practice. Of particular interest to students and historians of colonialism, imperialism and medicine at undergraduate and postgraduate level, the book examines the creation of an institutional language of gender and race in two nineteenth-century colonial institutional sites. It will also appeal to the many historians of insanity and its institutions, given that these sites were part of an imperial network of solutions to the problem of ‘madness’ which followed Europeans to new places of settlement.

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