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Asylums, isolation and sport

By Robert Ellis


In recent times, historians with an interest in the history of mental health institutions have explored the tensions at work in the social and physical separation of the insane. Addressing the notion of ‘total institutions’, recent work has concluded that the walls of asylums were often more ‘permeable’ than other healthcare institutions such as general hospitals. Central to this changing perspective has been the movement of visitors in and out of asylums. The paper will seek to place sport, and cricket in particular, within that wider framework. It will consider whether it was patients or staff that formed the basis of teams and consider the implications that this has for recent debates on ‘permeability’. In this case, the paper will show that an examination of sports participation can help to illuminate asylums’ place within the wider community

Topics: GV, RC0321
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