Imperfect Models: The Kingston Lunatic Asylum Scandal and the Problem of Postemancipation Imperialism

Fryar, Christienna. 2016. Imperfect Models: The Kingston Lunatic Asylum Scandal and the Problem of Postemancipation Imperialism. Journal of British Studies, 55(4), pp. 709-727. ISSN 0021-9371 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article examines an imperial scandal concerning the treatment of patients in the lunatic asylum of Kingston, Jamaica, that highlighted the inadequacies of the imperial government. A significant moment in the development of colonial public health policy, this scandal also spoke to broader questions of postemancipation imperial governance. At the heart of the scandal was a debate about whether standards of treatment developed in Britain—symbolized by the image of the ideal asylum and the ideology of moral management—could and should be implemented in colonies. This debate was all the more fraught because the designation of moral management as the official protocol was recent, its implementation incomplete, and its underlying ideas contested. Nevertheless, despite the instability of these ideas, during the scandal and its aftermath, actors treated them as a monolithic package of standards before making them the definitive model for all colonial institutions. Indeed, the scandal helped further bolster moral management in Britain.

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This article has been published in a revised form in Journal of British Studies doi:10.1017/jbr.2016.70. This version is published under a Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND. No commercial re-distribution or re-use allowed. Derivative works cannot be distributed.
COPYRIGHT: © The North American Conference on British Studies 2016


medicine, mental illness, asylums, British Isles, Caribbean, Empire, nineteenth century, race, slavery, emancipation, state, political ideas and thought

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9 July 2016Accepted
17 October 2016Published

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18 Feb 2020 10:23

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10 Jun 2021 09:37

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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