Baptism by Fire: The Making and Remaking of Madness in Cuba, 1899-1980


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This dissertation explores the history of psychiatry, psychology, and popular mental healing in Cuba and its diaspora in the twentieth century. The project foregrounds the history of the Mazorra Insane Asylum, the only public psychiatric hospital in Cuba until the 1959 Revolution and a key site of political intervention and social reform. The dissertation also tracks the fraught interaction between psychiatry and popular religion, especially Spiritism. The project argues that psychiatry in Cuba has been, and continues to be, closely connected to both high politics and social, racial, and cultural politics, and that the space of the mental asylum offers an intimate window onto the evolution of the Cuban state and the social and cultural history of Cuba more broadly.