Alternative Psychiatric Narratives
This conference will take place on the afternoon of Friday 16 May, and all day on Saturday 17 May 2014, at Birkbeck College, London, United Kingdom
Chair: Professor Joanna Bourke, Birkbeck
In recent years, historians of psychiatry have heeded Roy Porter’s call to produce psychiatric histories from the patient’s point of view. Studies have moved on from focusing on medical discourse to investigating the diversity of the patient population, their varied experiences, and their pathways to and from psychiatric institutions. Only just beginning, however, is work which pays attention to alternative narratives of psychiatry: individuals and accounts that have been excluded or overlooked in the midst of this focus upon doctor and patient. These include the experiences of those located outside formal psychiatric spaces and relationships, from families and non-medical staff, to activists and campaigners, as well as narratives taking unconventional forms or found in unexpected places, offering alternative readings of sites, spaces, or texts, or challenging the very ways in which psychiatric narratives could or should be expressed and used.
This conference seeks to contribute to the development of these alternative narratives of psychiatry (in the broadest sense of the term) by exploring the voices and experiences of those involved in the non-institutional, non-formal aspects of psychiatry, and by investigating new ways to access all aspects of psychiatric experience, from the early modern period to today. This will be a space to discuss wide ranging (alternative) narratives of psychiatry, representations of psychiatry over time, and the methods and meanings behind this work from a range of disciplinary perspectives.
To contact the organisers please email us on
AltPsychiatricNarratives AT gmail.com