Carolyn Gibbeson is a PhD candidate in the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies (ICCHS) at Newcastle University. She can be contacted at: email@example.com
Haunted Hospitals: An examination of the role of place attachment in the reuse of former, historic asylums
The research seeks to investigate the hypothesis that place attachment is a barrier to the development and re-use of Victorian asylums, as heritage buildings. As a functioning institution, the Victorian asylum was a feared place, symbolising the segregation of the mentally ill from normal society. Yet, as Franklin (2002) argues, the negative perceptions of the asylum have eased, to be replaced by an appreciation of its built form, and perhaps even a certain romance associated with the asylum as a place of recuperation, following the large-scale closures at the end of the twentieth century. It is for this reason that former asylums, subsequently re-named and redeployed as hospitals during the twentieth century, provide an ideal case study for a research project examining the phenomena of place attachment and heritage redevelopment of major institutional sites in the UK. Place attachment and its relationship with the environment has been explored quite extensively in recent literature on environmental psychology and cultural geography (Cresswell 2004; Scannell & Gifford, 2009, Rollero & de Piccoli 2010). In public history, the continuing significance of place and locality has attracted considerable attention in the context of globalisation (Driver and Samuel, 1995). However, less attention has been paid to the relationship between heritage, place attachment and the built environment, and it is to this field that the research is designed to make its main contribution.