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Outrageous Reason : Madness and race in Britain and Empire, 1780-2020

Peter Barham, Dwight Turner
Format: Paperback
Publisher: PCCS BOOKS
Published: November 30, 2023
ISBN: 9781915220394
260 pages, 11 black and white illustrations, and 3 colour illustrations
Country of publication: United Kingdom


This powerful and disturbing book draws direct comparisons between the plight and fates of African slaves, dehumanised and discarded to sanitise Britain’s trade in human lives and imperial ambitions, and the systemic ‘othering’ of people designated ‘mad’ throughout Western history. Drawing on contemporary historical records, Barham recounts, often in their own words, the stories of black people incarcerated in Kingston, Jamaica’s lunatic asylum, poor white women similarly ejected into the British psychiatric system in the early 20th century for failing to live up to class and gender norms, and most shockingly, black men who have died at the hands of the police and mental health nurses in state custody and psychiatric detention. Endemic racism, greed, cruelty, exploitation and social control are writ large across this account that demands to be read by all those concerned for human rights, mad rights, Black lives and truth-telling about Britain’s shameful colonial past and racist present.

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