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Title: The lunatic asylum in British India, 1857 to 1880 : colonialism, medicine and power
Author: Mills, James H.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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The thesis explores three issues which are important in discussions of colonial and medical power at the asylum in British India. The first is the asylum as a site for the production of colonial knowledge. The methodological problems of using documents is a current concern in both medical and colonial history and two chapters explore the themes common to both disciplines in the context of medical documents and medical data produced in a colonial context. Chapter 1 investigates the psychological case note as a source for the historian and demonstrates that although the nature of the information contained there makes problematic the common project of statistical profiling of patient population, discourse analysis as a methodology can render such documents a fruitful source for exploring relations in the colonial and medical institution. Chapter 2 focuses on the information systems of colonial government by interpreting the asylum as a laboratory for observing the Indian population and gathering information about it. In this chapter the techniques of looking at the Indian's body and behaviour through medical science are traced and the ways that the knowledge produced through these techniques became implicated in the wider concerns of colonial government to create public order issues is explored by using the case study of the cannabis user as a focus of British anxiety. The second aspect of the asylum is a focus on the asylum as a site for colonial strategies of control and discipline. Chapter 3 examines the British admissions policy in the context of colonial policing requirements and relates the incarceration policy to the priority accorded to controlling mobile populations in India rather than to a genuine concern for the fate for the mentally disordered. Chapter 4 concentrates on the treatment regime inside the asylum where the Indian patient was expected to submit to the authority of the medical officer and become reformed into an ordered and productive individual.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available