Transnational Lunacy: Madness, Society, and Citizenship in a World at War, 1914-1920


ACLS Fellowship Program



Named Award

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow named award


“HUNGERTOD!” From 1914 to 1920, around the globe, the death rate of civilians in mental health institutions was truly staggering. During these six years, 70,000 civilians died in Germany’s psychiatric hospitals of starvation and malnutrition. In Britain, the death rate of civilians in “insane asylums” rose to twenty percent in one year, 1918. Examining the socioeconomic, cultural, and legal contexts, this project interrogates the treatment of so-called civilian lunatics in Germany and Great Britain and their respective allies the Ottoman Empire and the United States during World War I. Through archival work and comparative analysis of psychiatric hospitals and the treatment of their patients in times of crisis, this project sheds light on inequitable national policies of entitlements based on civilians’ positionality in the hierarchy of citizenship. Therein, the project contributes to an increasingly global history of World War I while paying close attention to local contexts.