Andrew Fearnley

Academic Year: 
To Yale
Exchange Partners: 
Cambridge University
Research Interest: 
Race, Insanity And Incarceration In the Us, C. 1890-1940

Despite the prodigious amount written on the issue of race in the United States, and the history of mental health generally, it is surprising that scholars have failed to combine these two areas of enquiry. Mr.Fearnley's research hopes to begin bringing these two fields together to investigate how American society treated those minority groups, and especially African Americans, which had been classified as insane. Looking at how African Americans were diagnosed as being mentally ill, why certain characteristics came to be accepted as indicators of insanity, and how such decisions were invariably motivated by racialised beliefs, is the essence of this project. Whilst seeking to recapture a very human story about the processes and consequences of living one's life as black and insane, the project will also show how the broader intellectual currents of psychiatry were heavily racialised and in turn, molded popular ideas about race and normalcy in mid-century American society. It is hoped that such reseach will pose questions about the governmentality of racialism, and the symbiotic relationship that has developed between two poweful, ideological forces: namely, science and race. And in light of current caustic debates over 'race-based' drugs like the FDA-approved BiDil, the project is certainly timely.At Yale, Mr. Fearnley hopes to work with members of the History of Medicine, African-American, and American Studies programmes, in particular Professors Glenda Gilmore, Alondra Nelson, and Paul Gilroy. He also hopes to make extensive use of the resources of the Yale Medical School and Beinecke Library, as well as consulting state archives throughout the country. A field-hockey enthusiast, Mr. Fearnley also hopes to assist with training the Ladies' Varsity Field Hockey Team during the Fall semester.