Photographs from the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum, South Africa, 1890-1907

Show simple item record Du Plessis, Rory 2014-08-18T09:43:41Z 2014
dc.description.abstract This essay investigates photographs taken at the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum during the superintendence of Dr Thomas Duncan Greenlees, from 1890 to 1907. It examines two specific sets of photographs: first, the photographs taken for public consumption, and, second, the casebook photographs of the patients. I argue that the photographs produced for public consumption ascribe to the broader public image of the asylum. Greenlees constructed a public image of the asylum being committed to the curative regime of moral therapy while catering to the tastes, proclivities and activities of white private patients. The photographs for public consumption also include images of black patients. Yet, in this time of British colonial rule in South Africa, there was differential treatment for black patients. Under Greenlees’s superintendence, they were assigned supervised physical labour tasks under the pretext of them being occupational treatment. The discourses of cure and recovery in such a “treatment” regimen become signalled by the black patient’s ability to work. Thus, the curative ideal of the asylum for black patients, disseminated as its public image, is primarily concerned with domesticating black bodies into a docile and cooperative labour force. However, the public image of black patients as being passive before the asylum’s regimen is problematised through an analysis of the second set of images – the casebook photographs. These photographs depict patients confronting, refusing and resisting the asylum administration. Thus, the casebook photographs are valuable in recuperating active resistance and hold the potential to undermine the public image of the asylum. en_US
dc.description.librarian hb2014 en_US
dc.description.uri en_US
dc.identifier.citation Rory du Plessis (2014) Photographs from the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum,South Africa, 1890–1907 , Social Dynamics: A journal of African studies, 40:1, 12-42, DOI:10.1080/02533952.2014.883784. en_US
dc.identifier.issn 0253-3952 (print)
dc.identifier.issn 1940-7874 (online)
dc.identifier.other 10.1080/02533952.2014.883784
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.publisher Routledge en_US
dc.rights © 2014 Taylor & Francis. This is an electronic version of an article published in Social Dynamics : A journal of African studies, vol. 40, no. 1, pp.12-42, 2014. doi :10.1080/02533952.2014.883784. Social Dynamics: A journal of African studies is available online at : en_US
dc.subject Casebook photographs en_US
dc.subject Colonialism en_US
dc.subject Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum en_US
dc.subject Thomas Duncan Greenlees en_US
dc.subject Lunatic asylums en_US
dc.subject Moral therapy en_US
dc.subject Photography en_US
dc.title Photographs from the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum, South Africa, 1890-1907 en_US
dc.type Postprint Article en_US

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