Madness, Mining, and Migration in the Pacific World, 1848-1900


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation examines the history of insanity in the major Pacific gold-rush regions of the nineteenth century. Drawing on extensive archival research in California, British Columbia, and eastern Australia, it demonstrates that the interconnected character of the mining booms created a substantial migrant patient population that circulated within and between these regions. In turn, the themes of mobility, mining, and migration came to inform a distinct trans-Pacific discourse on insanity, one concerned with the unique mental strain posed by gold-rush living and the inherent incapacity of certain migrant “classes” to cope with its vices and disappointments. This discourse subsequently shaped major international legal trends defining the racial and socio-economic boundaries of the “healthy” nation.