This fascinating, entertaining and often gruelling book by James Mills examines the lunatic asylums set up by the British in nineteenth-century India to house the mad from among the local population. The author traces the growth in the asylum system which followed the Indian uprising of 1857 and asserts that this was fuelled by a British fear of itinerant and dangerous Indians. Once established, however, these asylums, staffed by Indians and populated by Indians, quickly became arenas where the designs of the British were contested and confronted.
In examining some of the stories from within the walls of the institutions, Mills argues that the 'madness' of the colonial asylums can be seen as both a challenge by the powerless of nineteenth-century India and as a source of insight into current debates about power, resistance and agency. This work draws on official archives in Scotland, England and India, and is essential reading for all those interested in social history or sociology or who have a general interest in either colonialism or the medical past