Natasha Lushetich

TALKS

BETHLEM

Every site is constituted through the intersections of social activities, social relations and the participant’s comprehension of the ‘dramaturgical requirements’ of the situation. Every site is a dynamic and unstable construct. Spatial maps tend to impose a (disembodied and distant) bird’s eye point of view on the complex processes through which sites are construed. Temporal maps, by contrast, capture the sequence of events experienced from an embodied point of view; they consist of a heterogeneous agglomeration of signs: spatial demarcations and traces, the social participants’ gestures, utterances, movements and intonations.

By employing an interdisciplinary methodology that relies on three disciplines (Medical Humanities, Performance Studies, and Art History), this paper investigates the formation of inscapes – internalised terrains of symbolic meaning – in two different sites and epochs: the Devon County Mental Hospital of the 1940s, and the Bethlem Royal Hospital of the 2010s.Through the analysis of a series of first-person narratives and onsite research this paper seeks to establish a relationship between the patients’ temporal maps and their inscapes – the settled, in some cases coagulated, perceptions of the psychiatric care spaces. In drawing a parallel between these two epochs, we also draw a parallel between the disciplinary society of the 1940s and the 2010s’ society of control. Here, we compare the methods and practices of incarceration, coercion and care present in the above institutions’ macro- and micro-management. In doing so, we argue for a performative and temporal – rather than spatial – constitution of incarceration, which operates through symbolic processes and subliminal maneuvers.

→ Alternative Psychiatric Narratives