Welcome to ‘Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces’, a research group of the University of Glasgow. This website aims to be a port of call for anyone interested in lunatic asylums, mental hospitals, psychiatric institutions, mental health facilities of all kinds, or indeed the still-wider concerns broadly clustering under the heading of ‘mental health geographies’ (which we also take to include ‘psychoanalytic geographies’ and ‘psychotherapeutic geographies’).
Our intention is to offer a resource for an ‘organic community’ of folks whose scholarly studies, professional capacities or other points of connection with matters of mental health prompt them to take seriously the spaces encompassing and comprised by these asylums, hospitals, facilities and other ‘places’ of mental health encounter. We are excited to think in all sorts of ways about material locations, sites, buildings, infrastructures, instruments, furnishings, etc., of these spaces, wondering about how and why they have been made (‘engineered’) as they have, adapted, transformed and maybe abandoned (sometimes over centuries). We are equally excited to consider how such spaces are (and have been) imagined, experienced, felt, resisted, loved and hated by all manner of constituencies: doctors, superintendents, attendants, nurses and, of course, ‘patients’ (but also reaching out to planners, politicians, families, voluntary workers and many others whose lives have been touched by such spaces).
The site here emerges from a specific set of scholars who have been working on asylum and post-asylum spaces for some years now. More by accident than design, a substantial grouping of researchers in this field has emerged around the Human Geography Research Group (HGRG) at the University of Glasgow (formally embedded within the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences), with links across to Medical History/Humanities colleagues elsewhere in the University.
As such, the focus of much of this endeavour has been ‘asylum spaces’: addressing the physical spaces of Scot.MAP, whether this be patiently reconstructing the environmental contexts of the little-known district asylums or discovering how the wards, corridors and conference rooms of Glasgow (Gartnavel) Royal Asylum have entered fundamentally into the shaping, experiencing and contesting of psychiatric theory and practice (to reference dimensions of just two PhD projects). However, there are also lecturing staff and PhD students associated with the HGRG possessing expertise and interests in more contemporary mental health spaces, those sometimes referenced as ‘post-asylum geographies’ (the spaces of living with and intervening in mental ill-health in a de-institutionalised landscape of treatment, care, shelter and sociability).
The ambition is that the research group will be blogging about all manner of issues to do with ‘Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces’: commenting on their own research, noting the research of others, reviewing fields of relevant academic and policy literature, reflecting on ‘real world’ developments in contemporary mental health care services and spaces, reporting on site visits or conference proceedings, forwarding information about upcoming events, and sharing ideas, worries, enthusiasms and provocations. That said, we invite on board anybody who wishes to contribute by commenting on our own blogs or starting their own threads, subject only to minimal moderation by the blog site administrators.
The hope is indeed to create a valuable resource for anyone with a passion for ‘Asylum and Post-Asylum Spaces’, for interested folks to gather here, to learn from one another and to profile scholarly studies, policy inquiries and critical engagements with the overall field of concern. It may be to create its own ‘virtual asylum’, where asylum is meant in the most positive sense of sanctuary, refuge, respite and non-judgmental companionship, for all such persons. So, welcome, and let us hear from you all.
To enquire about guest blog posts, or for further information, please contact the site administrator, Louise Boyle (firstname.lastname@example.org).