November 13, 2017
Madness Restrained and Unrestricted: Police, Families and The Beijing Municipal Aslum
This talk addresses the shift from home confinement of the insane to public institutionalization in early twentieth-century Beijing. Using police records from the Beijing Municipal Asylum, it will show how the meanings associated with madness underwent several subtle, yet at the same time significant, transformations following the advent of institutional care. Focusing specifically on the role that the police and local families played in this process, the talk will argue that official and popular perceptions of what constituted madness gradually broadened over the course of the early twentieth century, and that the expanded scope of who could be considered insane ultimately emerged through the routine interaction between municipal authorities and ordinary social actors like families and neighbors. Sponsored by the Department of East Asian Studies.