The Material and Symbolic Production of Insanity at the Royal Edinburgh Asylum, 1813-1900

Author(s): Madeline Bourque Kearin

Year: 2017


The Royal Edinburgh Asylum was one of the leading institutions in psychiatric research and treatment in 19th-century Scotland and one of the first to institute programs of moral management. While derived from French and English models, the implementation of moral management followed a distinct trajectory at the REA and other Scottish asylums, reflecting their particular cultural and political context. My paper will examine how the material practices of 19th-century institutions emerged from contingent historical processes — in particular, the rise of global capitalism and correspondent transformations in the conceptualization and performance of intersectional identities — and how these contingencies gave rise to our particularly "modern" views of class, gender, and mental illness. Archaeology holds enormous potential to broaden and possibly challenge our understanding of inmates’ daily lives, as well as to indicate how these experiences on the margins of society were fundamentally entangled with broader cultural discourses.

Cite this Record

The Material and Symbolic Production of Insanity at the Royal Edinburgh Asylum, 1813-1900. Madeline Bourque Kearin. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435393)

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Temporal Keywords
19th Century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 240