chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction: Mental Health, Migration, and Ethnicity


Until fairly recently, international scholars working in the fi eld of the histories of mental health have privileged national episodes and sites in the histories of institutions and institutional confi nement, particularly through the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century eras, with some work focused on the twentieth century.1 ‘Mental health’ has been defi ned largely through institutional confi nement because of the large number of accessible archival materials relating to the nineteenth century, with historians focused on studies of single institutions, often plotting demographic patterns of confi nement for hospitals, as well as assessing their place in the wider contexts of mental health policy and changes over time. Several volumes of collected essays examine national contexts for mental health, including studies of Canada, Australia, Wales, and Britain more widely.2 Another wave of edited volumes locates the study of institutional confi nement as a global phenomenon, with studies of international perspectives on the worldwide trends for mental health hospitalisation, studies of European approaches to psychiatric treatment inside institutions, a volume which considers the way psychiatry was bound up with practices of ‘empire’, and most recently, a volume which situates the study of institutional mental health inside the approaches of transnational and comparative histories of psychiatry.3