Asylums and the Insane in Early Twentieth-Century China
Talk Description: How was “madness” understood in early twentieth-century China? This talk will explore the shifting meanings associated with madness during the last decade of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) and the first decade of the Chinese republic (1911-1949). During this time, the first public asylum and the first modern police force were both established in the Chinese capital of Beijing. In tandem with the advent of these new quasi-disciplinary, quasi-charitable institutions, understandings of who should be considered "insane" shifted dramatically. This talk will demonstrate the ways in which the concept of "madness" evolved over the course of the early twentieth century, and will argue that these changing understandings of insanity arose in part due to the emergence of new policing mechanisms in the capital city.