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Material Cultures of Psychiatry


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Monika Ankele(Hg.), Benoît Majerus(Hg.), Material Cultures of Psychiatry (2020), transcript Verlag, Bielefeld, ISBN: 9783839447888

Getrackt seit 05/2018


Beschreibung / Abstract

In the past, our ideas on psychiatric hospitals and their history have been shaped by objects like straitjackets, cribs and binding belts. These powerful objects are often used as a synonym for psychiatry and the way psychiatric patients are treated, but very little is known about the agency of these objects and their appropriation by staff and patients. By focusing on material cultures, this book offers a new gaze on the history of psychiatry: it allows a narrative which shows »doing psychiatry« to be a complex entanglement where power is permanently negotiated. Scholars from different social sciences show how this material gaze ensures a critical approach while opening up the field to alternative questions.


Monika Ankele (Dr. phil.) is curator at the Museum for Medical History in Hamburg and scientific assistant at the Department for History and Ethics of Medicine at the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf. Her research focuses on the history of psychiatry (patient's history, spatial, material and practice turn). She was awarded the Käthe-Leichter-Prize for Women's and Gender Studies (Austrian Ministry for Women and Public Services) and the Michael Mitterauer-Prize for Social, Cultural and Economic History (Austrian Ministry for Education, Science and Culture, City of Vienna, Institute for Social and Economic History).
Benoît Majerus (Dr. phil.), born 1975, teaches European history at the University of Luxembourg. His research focuses on the history of psychiatry in the 19th and 20th centuries.


Open Access Angabe

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (CC BY-NC 4.0)


  • Cover
  • Content
  • Aktion #1246a
  • Material Cultures of Psychiatry
  • Pat. No. 25682
  • I. Scenography and Space
  • Oil on Canvas: An Isolation Cell Constructed by the k.k. Hofoperntheater for the Asylum
  • Silent "Night of Madness"? Light, Voice, Sounds, and Space in the Illenau Asylum in Baden between 1842 and 1910
  • "Le cabanon du fou": Uses of the Shed As a Confinement Device for the Insane in French Rural Households in the 19th Century
  • "Amongst the Most Important of the Agencies": Materializing "Nature" at the American Lunatic Asylum
  • Have a Seat!: Approaching the Object of the Chair at the Site of Psychiatry
  • II. Transforming Practices
  • Have a Seat
  • The Fabric of Seclusion: Textiles As Media of (Spatial) Interaction in Isolation Cells of Mental Hospitals
  • Theories of the "Savage": The Material Varek (Seagrass) As a Bearer of Meaning in Psychiatry around 1900
  • Untitled
  • The Uses and Misuses of Television in Long-Stay Psychiatric and "Mental Handicap" Wards, 1950s-1980s
  • Buttons and Stimuli: The Material Basis of Electroconvulsive Therapy As a Place of Historical Change
  • III. Agents of Healing
  • Materiality
  • "The Magical Device": Temple Grandin�s Hug Machine
  • The Piano in the Asylum and the Insanity of the Composer: Two Variations on a Theme (with Interlude)
  • The Effectiveness of Symbols: Psychogeographic Explorations of the Body
  • IV. Bodies, Senses, and the Self
  • Loss of Identity
  • Lives in Storage: Clothes and Other Personal Effects As a Way of Recovering Patients� Histories in a Psychiatric Hospital
  • A Corridor That Moves: Corporeal Encounters with Materiality in a Mental Hospital
  • Psychographics and the Materials of Time Measurement in Modern French Psychiatry
  • V. Teaching Projects
  • Artistic Research on Things in/of Psychiatry: An Interdisciplinary Teaching Project
  • Cover, Rip Up, Unwrap: Scenes with Material from the Mental Asylum. A Documentary Theater Based on Medical Records
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Imprint

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