‘Not just a building, a community’: staff reflections on former historic asylum sites

Carolyn Gibbeson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article draws on interviews with former staff members from three historic asylum sites in the north of England. It examines the attachments staff felt towards these sites, which have often been considered tainted or stigmatised. These insider narratives provide a contrast to the often-negative outsider views of asylums. Former staff experiences of space can also be characterised in terms of inside and outside; although they lived regimented lives, they were free to come and go around their workplace, unlike patients. Their memories reveal them having inhabited an in-between world, where the isolation of these institutions separated them from the outside community, of which they were also a part. This article builds on limited existing work about staff experiences and their narratives, further highlighting the wide-ranging and often contested meanings of these historic buildings and sites.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOral History
Volume49
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

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