University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Department of Geography - Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography > Towards a Genealogy of Care: The Treatment of Scotland’s Inebriates

Towards a Genealogy of Care: The Treatment of Scotland’s Inebriates

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This paper traces the legal and medical geographies of residential care for inebriates in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Scotland. Legislation enabled the creation of private and later public institutions. Local authorities were never formally required to construct such institutions, however. The permissive nature of the legislation created an uneven geography of treatment which I have previously examined using a framework of liberty and control, emphasising that place played a significant part in responses to inebriety. Put simply, the magistrates in one town might sentence an inebriate to five days in prison, whereas those elsewhere might refer an inebriate to a reformatory for up to three years. Formal inebriate care relied on the criminal justice system for its inmates – itself shaped by concerns of class and gender – but was also affected by debates about the relationship between inebriety and insanity, whose sufferers could be subjected to permanent detention for the good of themselves and of society. Against that broader landscape of police cell, court, prison and asylum, I argue that to understand inebriate care – and its failure – we have to grasp the movement of individuals between institutions as much as we do the treatment or otherwise that was provided within them.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - Seminars in Cultural and Historical Geography series.

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