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dc.contributor.advisor Fahmy, Khaled
dc.contributor.author Nour, Samar Gamal
dc.date.accessioned 2014-05-30T22:12:30Z
dc.date.available 2015-05-31T22:00:13Z
dc.date.created 2014 Spring en
dc.date.issued 2014-05-31
dc.identifier.uri http://dar.aucegypt.edu/handle/10526/3972
dc.description.abstract What was “colonial” about “colonial psychiatry” in Egypt? Recent scholarship on colonial psychiatry opens a new window into this important historical problem and offers significant, if ambiguous, evidence about the practice of what we can call “colonial psychology” and what was considered “pathological” (mental) in the colonial context, thereby shedding light on the “normal” as well and hence elaborates on the proclivity of colonial psychiatry to provide a "naturalized" and “pathologjzed” accounts of the colonized subjects. The introduction of the modern European asylum in 1884 significantly changed the definition and perception of mental illness and madness in Egypt, as it did in the colonies in general. It did not only change that perception to conform to European definitions grounded in the then nascent science of psychiatry, it also managed to the displacement of local norms with European ones, which grew increasingly dominant that the Egyptian specialists in the field and the common Egyptians came to accept, the colonial spurious claims to knowledge mastery of that (pseudo)science. As Foucault argues, the transition to modernity brought the dialogue between sanity and madness to a standstill and the power of reason thereafter identified, categorized and dominated the irrational “other” within European society. This assertion takes a particular bent when applied in a colonial context as this sanity/madness binary becomes especially problematic in defining the relationship between the colonial power and the colonized subject, creating a colonial twist in a western blueprint. This dilemma is ubiquitous in the way colonial politics used the establishment of medical institutions and assistance networks, in general, to perpetuate the illusion of “Western munificence.” One can argue that the mental asylum in the colonies reflected European humanitarian concern for disciplining, rather than punishing. However, it simultaneously functioned as the key symbol of the civilizing mission as it “gave expression to Europe’s faith in its innate superiority, its mastery over man as well as nature.” After all, together with the introduction of Western education, medicine had not only been considered an adequate recompense for the hardships, injustices and social problems concomitant with colonial domination but had also been glorified as a formidable, if not the sole, “excuse for colonialism.” The idioms of madness in this peculiar colonial hybrid of psychiatry could only be (de)formed by the diction of a colonial discourse that conceived of the colonial endeavor in terms of a discrete, superior, and enlightened European people being responsible for the economic, political, social and moral improvement of an allegedly “inferior barbaric” people. Native spiritual beliefs and national heritages were then commonly labeled as “barbaric”, “uncultured” and “uncivilized” and the natives were viewed as naturally endowed only with a poor mental capacity and a mind possessed of a “feeble texture” that could easily become unhinged. Although eminent colonial figures trusted that, with a little help from the British, enlightened ideas and education might civilize even the natives, the talk of racial inferiority came to predominate. This is in nowhere clearer than in the attempt to “colonialize” certain widely held beliefs in Europe to fit in a colonial context. Foreign doctors in Egypt grappled with considerable problems in attempting to explain the relative incidence of mental derangement among various different races in terms which would fit in with the colonial precept of Western superiority while providing evidence to support the widely held view that allegedly uncivilized people ought to, by definition, be less prone to mental problems. A number of convoluted and contradictory articles published in Egypt and Britain on the epidemiology of mental illness in the colony testify to these bitter attempts to reconciliation. Moreover, both in England and the colonies, contemporary concepts such as moral management, for example, were of course imprecise and ambiguous and therefore allowed for a generous, if not arbitrary, interpretation of what they ought to entail in practice. Similarly, liberal and utilitarian pillars of early 19th century asylum science such as non-restraint, work and recreational opportunities and classification and segregation were notoriously prone to controversy. Their passage to the colonies endowed them with an even more, typically colonial, variation; the natives as raving mad while the European, always, a gentleman even when mad. This research should be seen as an attempt to mise en scène the British establishment of the mental asylum as an institutionalized and centralized social control apparatus and argue that it was primarily the product of closely inter-related structural changes; the main driving force behind these changes being the advent of colonization and the obsession with creating “order” where there should exist an institution that not only combat but also remind of the consequences of non-conformity and deviance of the “insufficiently other” and serve to fend off the disruptive effect on an otherwise “docile” community. en
dc.format.extent 119 p. en
dc.format.medium theses en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.rights Author retains all rights with regard to copyright. en
dc.subject Mental illness en
dc.subject Colonies en
dc.subject Egypt en
dc.subject Medicine en
dc.subject.lcsh Thesis (M.A.)--American University in Cairo en
dc.subject.lcsh Mental illness -- Egypt.
dc.subject.lcsh Colonies.
dc.subject.lcsh Medicine -- Egypt.
dc.title “Claiming the mad”: implications of the introduction of the mental asylum in colonial Egypt en
dc.type Text en
dc.subject.discipline Middle East Studies en
dc.rights.access This item is restricted for 1 year from the date issued en
dc.contributor.department American University in Cairo. Dept. of Arab and Islamic Civilizations en
dc.description.irb American University in Cairo Institutional Review Board approval has been obtained for this item. en
dc.contributor.committeeMember Ghazaleh, Pascale
dc.contributor.committeeMember Elbendary, Amina


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  • Theses and Dissertations [1727]
    This collection includes theses and dissertations authored by American University in Cairo graduate students.

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