New issue – Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

swdfA new issue of Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry is now out and includes the following two articles:

“Crossing the Boundaries of ‘Colonial Psychiatry’. Reflections on the Development of Psychiatry in British India, c. 1870-1940” (Waltraud Ernst)

This article explores the development of psychiatric institutions within the context of British colonial rule in India, in particular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Existing scholarship on ‘colonial medicine’ has tended to focus on colonial power and hegemony and the British endeavour to ‘colonize the Indian body’ during the nineteenth century. It is suggested here that reference to ‘colonial’ medicine and psychiatry tends to reify the ideology of colonialism and neglect other important dimensions such as the role of international scientific networks and the mental hospital as the locus of care and medicalization. From the later period of British colonial engagement in south Asia, people’s right and entitlement to medical care and the colonial state’s obligation to provide institutional treatment facilities received increased attention. As the early twentieth-century case of an Indian hospital superintendent shows, practitioners’ professional ambitions went beyond the confines of ‘colonial psychiatry’. He practiced in his institution science-based psychiatry, drawing on models and treatment paradigms that were then prevalent in a variety of countries around the globe.

“Fashioning Racial Selves: Reflexive Practices in the Society for Mental Hygiene” (Eric J. Engstrom)

The paper examines the admissions practices of the German Society for Racial Hygiene (Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene) between 1905 and 1916. It assesses the Society’s changing statutes and the various charts (genealogical, anthropological, and clinical) used to vet prospective members. The Society’s admissions procedures were dual-use technologies, at once serving as evidence for both the larger goals of racial science research and the narrower aims of social inclusion/exclusion. But these procedures can also be interpreted as reflexive practices by which members fashioned their sense of racial self and cultivated relations to that self. Finally, the article situates these practices in the context of histories of human experimentation, the self, and biopolitics.

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