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Insanity and Imprisonment in British Guiana, 1814-1966

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journal contribution
posted on 05.02.2021, 16:07 by Clare Anderson, Kellie Moss, Estherine Adams
This paper explores links between incarceration and enslavement, migration, and mental health, in the colony of British Guiana. Contemporaries recognised the negative impact that mobility and labour had on the health and well-being of enslaved persons and Asian immigrants, including on plantations. Understandings of ‘insanity’ later developed to bring ideas about biology, context, and behaviour into dialogue, including through the racialisation of its prevalence and character amongst the colony’s diverse population. Before the construction of separate institutions, people who were believed to be suffering from mental illness were sometimes kept in jails, and due to a lack of capacity this continued even after lunatic asylums were developed from the 1840s. At the same time, colonial administrators recognised that incarceration itself could cause mental ill-health, and as such into the early twentieth century British Guiana engaged with global debates about criminal insanity.

History

Citation

LIAS Working Paper Series, 4, 2021, DOI: https://doi.org/10.29311/lwps.202143750

Author affiliation

School of History, Politics and International Relations

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Published in

LIAS Working Paper Series

Volume

4

Publisher

University of Leicester Open Journals

issn

2516-4783

eissn

2516-4783

Acceptance date

04/01/2021

Copyright date

2021

Available date

04/01/2021

Language

en