The Afterlives of Asylums

By Chris Philo

Hot off the press is this new book which impinges directly on the interests of all ‘asylum spaces’ enthusiasts, also doubling as a vital contribution to questions about ‘post-asylum spaces’: Graham Moon, Robin Kearns and Alun Joseph, 2015, The Afterlives of the Psychiatric Asylum: Recycling Concepts, Sites and Memories (Ashgate, Farnham, UK). I was fortunate enough to see a manuscript version a little while ago, having been invited to draft a back-cover endorsement, which I now repeat below.

“Are there any asylums left? Well, yes and no. Discredited as suitable spaces for treating people with mental health problems, almost everywhere they have been threatened with closure. And yet they persist, these stubborn physical presences on the landscape. Ruined, re-used in new ways, still partially used for mental health purposes, even re-invented as modern mental health resorts: the asylums still ‘haunt’ us materially and imaginatively. This book wonderfully explores the complex, often paradoxical, after-lives of the nineteenth- and early-twentieth century lunatic asylums, asking profound questions about how these ‘edgy spaces’ illuminate the recycling, reworking and resisting of the stigmas that can cling resolutely to both people and place. It is a landmark text for cross-disciplinary critical mental health studies.”

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