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Health Place. 2009 Sep;15(3):895-902. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2009.02.009. Epub 2009 Mar 6.

Unpromising configurations: towards local historical geographies of psychiatry.

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Department of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.


This paper introduces a theme section comprising of three other papers, written from cross-disciplinary perspectives, exploring what might be termed 'local historical geographies of psychiatry', and in particular demonstrating how pioneering innovations in the treatment of mental health problems sometimes emerge from the most 'unpromising' of spaces and places. The introductory paper contextualises the studies that follow, laying out claims regarding the need to take seriously the thoroughly situated character of the knowledge and practices that are taken to comprise the 'stuff' of science, technology and medicine, and more specifically drawing out what such claims mean for an emerging 'spatial turn' in historical research on psychiatry and other mental health subjects. We focus on innovations which emerged where least expected, in 'backwaters' or even 'deprived' locations and institutions, thereby qualifying more conventional accounts of change in the field that prioritise centres of learning as the key sites from which developments arise and diffuse.

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