narrating patient identities in the colonial hospitals for the insane, 1873–1910
This chapter analyses the many social identity categories produced through official records of the insane in the colonies, using the database of almost 4,000 patients sampled from the two institutional colonial sites for every third year between 1873 and 1910. The social characteristics of this sample population are outlined here to provide a foundation for later chapters, and to throw light on the book’s theme of social identity. The data presented in this chapter simplifies the vast amount of detail gathered, showing how asking different questions can complicate its interpretation and thus our analysis. This chapter examines the mobile peoples of the colonial worlds they passed through by surveying the different ways these people were reflected upon, counted, described, understood and made into categories inside institutions, how their very identities were the result of a winnowing process of detailed case-making inside institutions in the period, and were then framed inside narratives of insanity.
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