Migration, Ethnicity, and Madness

BookMigration, Ethnicity, and Madness

Migration, Ethnicity, and Madness

New Zealand, 1860–1910

Migrations and Identities, 5


April 2nd, 2015



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This book provides a social, cultural, and political history of migration, ethnicity, and madness in New Zealand between 1860 and 1910. Its key aim is to analyse the ways that patients, families, asylum officials, and immigration authorities engaged with the ethnic backgrounds and migration histories and pathways of asylum patients and why. Exploring such issues enables us to appreciate the difficulties that some migrants experienced in their relocation abroad, hardships that are often elided in studies of migration that focus on successful migrant settlement. Drawing upon lunatic asylum records (including patient casebooks and committal forms), immigration files, surgeon superintendents reports, asylum inspector reports, medical journals, and legislation, the book highlights the importance of examining antecedent experiences, the migration process itself, and settlement in the new land as factors that contributed to admission to an asylum. The study also raises broader themes beyond the asylum of discrimination, exclusion, segregation, and marginalisation, issues that are as evident in society today as in the past.


'Angela McCarthy's Migration, Ethnicity and Madness sheds considerable light on the under-researched but important area of the mental health of migrants with special reference to those who settled in the Antipodes from around the world. The book, though historical in focus, resonates powerfully with aspects of the current crisis in global migration.
Sir Tom Devine, Herald Scotland

'McCarthy has added important dimensions to the history of insanity in Australia and New Zealand, but even more significant is the depth of insight [this] work offers historians of immigration. [It] deserves a wide readership.'
Stephen Garton, Australian Historical Studies

‘A masterly and deeply insightful study … exhaustively researched … lucidly argued … illuminates brilliantly what has sometimes been seen as a shadowy part of the country’s history.’
Paul Moon, New Zealand Books, Autumn 2016.

‘McCarthy is meticulous in presenting statistics … [and] eloquent … in the presentation and interpretation of specific personal “stories”. … [H]er book adds a further dimension that may well influence scholars far beyond Australasia … as a source of migration in its own right. … All students of international migration will benefit from McCarthy’s unveiling of an unfamiliar paper trail that invites us to reconstruct the movements and motives of a hitherto undocumented and “marginal” stratum. The fact that those identified as lunatics were at the margin of respectable society actually enhances their historical interest, providing extreme illustrations of issues that united and divided societies at large.’
David Fitzpatrick, Immigrants and Minorities.


Author Information

Angela McCarthy is Professor of History at the University of Otago.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
1. New Zealand Asylums in the British World
2. Exporting and Repatriating the Insane
3. The Voyage out, Motives, Migration Pathways, Asylum Transfers
4. The New Land and Local Ties
5. Transnational Ties to Home
6. ‘Race’, Ethnicity, and Cross-Cultural Encounters