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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Fools on the Hill: The Natal Government Asylum and the Institutionalisation if Insanity in Colonial Natal
Author:Parle, Julie
Periodical:Journal of Natal and Zulu History
Geographic terms:South Africa
Great Britain
medical history
History and Exploration
Health and Nutrition
Abstract:Built in 1880 on Town Hill, then on the outskirts of Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the Colony of Natal (South Africa), the Natal Government Asylum was southern Africa's first custom-built lunatic asylum. Until 1927, when black patients were transferred to the disused military barracks at Fort Napier, the Natal Government Asylum remained the chief site of detainment for those - white, African and Indian, men and women - who were deemed to be insane. This article contributes to the small but growing number of histories of Western psychiatry and colonialism in southern Africa by describing the history of the Natal Government Asylum in the colonial era. It focuses on the patients, analysing who they were and why they were in the asylum. Furthermore it discusses the ways in which insanity was defined in colonial Natal. Notes, ref.