Ellis, Robert (2011) Asylums, isolation and sport. In: What is the Future of Sport History in Academia?: a symposium, Wednesday 29th June 2011, University of Huddersfield. (Unpublished)

In recent times, historians with an interest in the history of mental health institutions have explored the
tensions at work in the social and physical separation of the insane. Addressing the notion of ‘total
institutions’, recent work has concluded that the walls of asylums were often more ‘permeable’ than
other healthcare institutions such as general hospitals. Central to this changing perspective has been
the movement of visitors in and out of asylums. The paper will seek to place sport, and cricket in
particular, within that wider framework. It will consider whether it was patients or staff that formed the
basis of teams and consider the implications that this has for recent debates on ‘permeability’. In this
case, the paper will show that an examination of sports participation can help to illuminate asylums’
place within the wider community.

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