In the past, our ideas of psychiatric hospitals and their history have been shaped by objects like straitjackets, cribs and binding belts. These powerful objects are often used as a synonym for psychiatry and the way psychiatric patients are treated. But what do we really know about the social life [see Majerus 2011] of psychiatric patients and the stories of less spectacular objects in the everyday life of psychiatric institutions? What do we know about the material cultures of these places in general?
We are also interested in discussing the epistemic value of a material approach for the history of psychiatry and its possible additions to or corrections of this history. What agents, practices and social interactions come into view when we focus on the material dimensions of psychiatry? What agents and practices that previously went unnoticed gain significance by focusing on the material cultures of psychiatry? And what new perspectives on the psychiatric institution open up?
Workshop in Hamburg. Date: 3-4 May 2018
Organisers: Dr Monika Ankele (Department for History and Ethics of Medicine at the University Clinic Hamburg-Eppendorf) and Prof. Benoît Majerus (Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg).