Barbara Bates Center Seminar Series – Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South

Speaker: Kylie Smith, PhD, Emory University

Date and Time: Wednesday, February 16, 2022, 4:00pm EST, virtual via BlueJeans

Abstract: The Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s sought to end racial segregation in all U.S. public institutions, including hospitals. Deep seeded and racist fears of the Black mentally ill meant that Southern politicians sought to avoid the integration mandate in their hospitals which became unexpected battlegrounds over segregation and patients’ rights, setting the scene for disparities that continue today. In this talk Smith explores the process of desegregation and deinstitutionalization in state psychiatric hospitals in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. It draws on original records, court cases and personal testimony to expose the racist ideas that underpinned the treatment of African Americans with mental illness. In this analysis we see the way that psychiatric hospitals were being used as dumping grounds for some of the south’s most vulnerable people and became an unexpected site of the Civil Rights movement. Supported by a grant from the National Library of Medicine, Jim Crow in the Asylum: Psychiatry and Civil Rights in the American South will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2023 and also available as an Open Access Digital Monograph using the Manifold Platform.

Bio: Kylie Smith, PhD, is Associate Professor and the Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing and the Humanities in the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and Associate Faculty in the Department of History at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Her previous book “Talking Therapy: Knowledge and Power in American Psychiatric Nursing” was published by Rutgers University Press in 2020 and was awarded Book of the Year from both the American Journal of Nursing and the American Association for the History of Nursing.

Register here.

Penn Nursing - Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing Office: 215-898-4502 / Fax: 215-573-2168 
418 Curie Boulevard, Floor 2U, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4217

[email protected]