edited by Nancy Rose Hunt and Hubertus Büschel
Duke University Press, 2024
eISBN: 978-1-4780-5932-5 | Paper: 978-1-4780-3034-8 | Cloth: 978-1-4780-2611-2
Library of Congress Classification RC451.A35P79 2024

Psychiatric Contours investigates new histories of psychiatry, derangement, and agitated subjectivities in colonial and decolonizing Africa. The volume lets the multivalent term madness broaden perception, well beyond the psychiatric. Many chapters detect the mad or the psychiatric in unhinged persons, frantic collectives, and distressing situations. Others investigate individuals suffering from miscategorization. A key Foucauldian word, vivacity, illuminates how madness aligns with pathology, creativity, turbulence, and psychopolitics. The archives, patient-authored or not, speak to furies and fantasies inside asylums, colonial institutions, decolonizing missions, and slave ships. The frayed edges of politicized deliria open up the senses and optics of psychiatry’s history in Africa far beyond clinical spaces and classification. The volume also proposes fresh concepts, notably the vernacular, to suggest how to work with emic clues in a granular fashion and telescope the psychiatric within histories of madness. With chapters stretching across much of ex-British and ex-French colonial Africa, Psychiatric Contours attends to the words, autobiographies, and hallucinations of the stigmatized and afflicted as well as of the powerful. Expatriate psychiatrists with cameras, prying authorities, fearful missionaries, and colonial anthropologists enter these readings beside patients, asylums, and boarding schools via research on possession “hysteria” and schizophrenia. In brief, this book demonstrates novel ways of writing not only medical history but all subaltern and global histories.

Contributors. Hubertus Büschel, Raphaël Gallien, Matthew M. Heaton, Richard Hölzl, Nancy Rose Hunt, Richard C. Keller, Sloan Mahone, Nana Osei Quarshie, Jonathan Sadowsky, Romain Tiquet

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