344 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 20 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3102-8
Published: February 2017
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3101-1
Published: February 2017
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-3103-5
Published: December 2016
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From its birth, Cuban psychiatry was politically inflected, drawing partisan contention while sparking debates over race, religion, gender, and sexuality. Psychiatric notions were even invested with revolutionary significance after 1959, as the new government undertook ambitious schemes for social reeducation. But Mazorra was not the exclusive province of government officials and professionalizing psychiatrists. U.S. occupiers, Soviet visitors, and, above all, ordinary Cubans infused the institution, both literal and metaphorical, with their own fears, dreams, and alternative meanings. Together, their voices comprise the madhouse that, as Lambe argues, haunts the revolutionary trajectory of Cuban history.
About the Author
Jennifer L. Lambe is assistant professor of history at Brown University.
For more information about Jennifer L. Lambe, visit the Author Page.
“Madhouse is a great study of one of the most important psychiatric institutions in the Americas. It is not only beautifully written in lively prose, but it displays depth of knowledge in medicine and science studies and great familiarity with all domains of Cuban culture and history. The book is also refreshing in the way it overcomes the typical division in Cuban studies among the colonial period, the U.S. occupation, the first republic, and the revolution. Jennifer Lambe's long view, spanning modern Cuban history, proposes an always contested and often tragic psychiatric institution, propelled by intrigue and experimental transformation, as a lens for viewing the fate of modern Cuba itself. The compelling results have immense implications for all areas of Cuban studies, from the history of sexuality, gender, and medicine, to the politics of reform, revolution, and everyday life.” --Steven Palmer, University of Windsor
"In 1857, a house intended for the social exclusion of insane Cubans was established on the lands owned by the slave trader Jose Mazorra, and a century marked by wars, corruption, and revolution turned the asylum into a 'pantomime in miniature' of an independent yet occupied island called Cuba. Mazorra was a racially complex and 'impure' social setting that doctors and politicians felt the need to rewrite as a morally uplifting journey towards physical health, if not democracy. That Jennifer Lambe has opened the archives of this tropical madhouse is our good fortune, because the story is so engrossing that readers will inevitably wonder whether these events are real. Madhouse is historical research at its best."--José Quiroga, Emory University