Dissertations – The Ottoman State and the insane, 1856–1908

Mental Patients inside Toptaşı Mental Asylum. (From the private collection of Cengiz Kahraman)

Mental Patients inside Toptaşı Mental Asylum. (From the private collection of Cengiz Kahraman)

Cihangir Gündoğdu: “Are there no asylums?”
 : the Ottoman State and the insane, 1856–1908

The present study seeks to contribute to and expand our knowledge concerning the nature and scope of the Tanzimat reforms by bringing to our scholarly attention a relatively understudied matter, the mental asylum reform that took place between 1856 and 1908. This study begins with Luigi Mongeri’s appointment to the Süleymaniye Mental Asylum in 1856 and ends with the 1908 revolution, which inaugurated a period when the mental asylum would undergo a new reformist trend at the hands of Unionist elite. Although the objects of asylum reform were, obviously, the “insane”, this work does not primarily focus on their stories. It rather explores the professional, legal, political, and economic processes that accompanied the mental asylum reform in the second half of the nineteenth century in the Ottoman Empire. It is accordingly organized around certain themes and problematics, such as the definition and quantification of madness, its regulation, the proposals and initiatives to institutionalize the treatment of the insane, and the financing of such initiatives.

Cihangir Gündoğdu did his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago’s Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department. He defended his dissertation on 4 September 2014 and currently teaches history classes at the Istanbul Bilgi University in Turkey.

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