An archaeology of lunacy examines the historic lunatic asylum from an interdisciplinary perspective, employing methods drawn from archaeology, social geography, and history to create a holistic view of the built heritage of the asylum as a distinctive building type. In the popular imagination, historic lunatic asylums were dark, monolithic, and homogenous, instruments for social confinement and punishment. This book aims to redress this historical reputation, showing how the built environment and material worlds of lunatic asylums were distinctive and idiosyncratic – and highly regional. They were also progressive spaces and proving grounds of architectural experimentation, where the reformed treatment practices known as moral management were trialled and refined. The standing remains of the nineteenth-century lunatic asylum system represent a unique opportunity to study a building-type in active transition, both materially and ideologically. When they were constructed, asylums were a composite of reform ideals, architectural materials, and innovative design approaches. An archaeological study of these institutions can offer a materially focused examination of how the buildings worked on a daily basis. This study combines critical analysis of the architecture, material remains, and historical documentary sources for lunatic asylums in England and Ireland. Students and scholars of later historical archaeology and built heritage will find the book a useful overview of this institutional site type, while historians of medicine will find the focus on interior design and architecture of use. The general public, for whom asylums frequently represent shadowy ruins or anonymous redevelopments, may be interested in learning more about the buildings.
concerned with the material legacy of social life. Archaeologists record the ways in which routine and ritual are carried out, changed, and abandoned over time, tracking the movement of people through landscapes using the things they leave behind. Archaeologists are thus well-placed to inform on changes in a busy landand task-scape like the historic lunatic asylum. Lunatic asylums are rich archaeological sites, encompassing both buildings and landscapes, and can inform on the social, political, and economic life of the period in which they were built. Changes to the
; Shropshire Parish
Registers. Diocese of Hereford. Vol. IV (Shropshire Parish Register Society, 1903),
pp. 58–60, 61, 63; T. F. Thiselton-Dyer, Old English Social Life as Told by the Parish
Registers (London: Elliot Stock, 1898), p. 8.
C. Boddington and K. Holt (eds), The Parish Register of Beverley St Mary. Volume 2.
1637–1689 (Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Parish Register Series, 173, 2008),
p. 275; T. Wainwright (ed.), Barnstaple Parish Register of Baptisms, Marriages and
Burials 1538 A. D. to 1812 A. D. (Exeter: James G. Commin, 1903), burials, p. 63.
reform theorists like Tuke, Charlesworth, and Conolly were concerned with delineating the management of lunatic asylums as social institutions separate in nature and mission from prisons, houses of industry, and even general infirmaries. These concerns can be clearly seen as articulated in the material remains of the institution and supported in the documentary source material. Crucially, from a methodological perspective, material culture and material traces in the documentary record can be utilised in order to determine everyday practice. The strength of the method
’s notion of “epistemological
break” that divided scientific from everyday knowledge is perhaps the most
exemplary of this type of history of science, pointing to this very threshold.
Finally, Foucault’s own archaeological analysis, or what he described as the
“analysis of the episteme,”40 was meant to direct its attention to the thresholds
of positivity and epistemologization, the latter being similarly emphasized in
Kuhn’s “paradigm” approach, which also gave the threshold of formalization
Beyond the social turn of medicalization
Placing the boundaries of
. Social Theory & Health, 14(2): 256–274.
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Foucault, M. (1967) Madness and Civilisation. London, Tavistock.
Foucault, M. (1973) The Birth of the Clinic: An Archaeology of Medical Perception.
Foucault, M. (1982) The subject and power. IN: Dreyfus, H. and Rabinow, P. (eds)
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doing nothing more harmful than taking on extra laundry for the single men they worked with (since they were not dismissed, any illicit practice can be discounted), such close fraternisation was not encouraged. A non-regulated and unrecorded activity was not considered to have a place within the asylum. However, evidence of resistance to this rigorous control of space and behaviour is not uncommon in the historical and archaeological record.
Resistance to or the transgression of socially acceptable behaviours in an institutional context was
Social progressivism and the transformation of provincial medicine
The march of intellect: social
progressivism and the transformation of
There never was an age in which they who intend to support the dignified character of graduated physicians, had better opportunities for improvement in
physiology. Lectures, as well as books, in anatomy, chemistry and in every part
of science and natural philosophy, never abounded more. Let the student devote
himself to these with long and serious application, and depend more upon them,
than on the caprice of fashion, or any singularity in his chariot and livery
: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993); M. Dietler and I.
Herbich, ‘Habitus, techniques, style: an integrated approach to the social
understanding of material culture and boundaries’, in M.T. Stark (ed.), The
Archaeology of Social Boundaries (Washington, London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998), pp. 232–63; C. Knappett, Thinking through Material
Culture: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005); C. Tilley, ‘Ethnography and material culture’, in P.
Atkinson et al. (eds), Handbook of Ethnography (London: Sage, 2001), pp.
Cholera, collectivity and the care of the social body
Guardians of health: cholera, collectivity
and the care of the social body
This establishment [the York Medical Society] alone reflects honour to the faculty
in York – this alone is a light so luminous that its vivifying influence is already
felt among the members of the profession at large.
‘A Medical Pupil’, York Herald, 20 October 1832
[T]he scientific physician enlarges the sphere of his enquiries, the good of men is
his great object – the end of all his labours being to prevent moral and corporeal
disease, to alleviate pain, to restore health. They