Third Lecture in Ashoka History Spring Webinar 2021
March 3 @ 1:40 pm - 2:45 pm
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Date: Wednesday 3 March
Time: 1:40-2:45 PM
Meeting ID: 924 1718 2915
This talk looks at the case histories of select patients and contextualises their existence within the lunatic asylums of colonial North India. This discussion would attempt to understand the genre of ‘case notes’ and the use of language in formulating the psychiatric discourse. These clinical narratives had multiple voices inherent in them. The patients underwent monthly checkups and the records were thus updated on a monthly basis. These monthly updates reflect the haphazard manner of documenting. The different styles and handwritings also led to changes in the vocabulary. The language of ‘madness’ had a predominant psychiatric discourse hidden in which there were voices of patients, family, and the doctor. All of these were combined in a ‘scientific’ language and thereby emerged case notes.
Shilpi Rajpal is a Guest Lecturer at Hansraj College, University of Delhi. She has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali. She received her doctoral degree from the Department of History, University of Delhi. Her book Curing Madness? A Social and Cultural History of Insanity in North India, 1800-1950s has been published by Oxford University Press, 2020.