Madness and the Making of a Colonial Order in Burma

J Saha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


In general, during the nineteenth century the British were indifferent to the condition of the insane in colonial Burma. This was most apparent in the Rangoon lunatic asylum, which was a neglected institution reformed reluctantly and episodically following internal crises of discipline and the occasional public scandal. However, whilst psychiatry was generally neglected, British officials did intervene when and where insanity threatened the colonial order. This occurred in the criminal courts where the presence of suspected lunatics was disruptive to the administration of justice. Insanity was also a problem for the colonial regime within the European community, where erratic behaviour was viewed as a threat to racial prestige. This article shows how, despite its neglected status in Burma, psychiatric knowledge contributed to British understandings of Burman masculinity and to the maintenance of colonial norms of European behaviour.
Translated title of the contributionMadness and the Making of a Colonial Order in Burma
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-435
Number of pages30
JournalModern Asian Studies
Issue number2
Early online date1 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


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