Historisches Seminar



The institutionalization of Psychiatry in the Russian Empire: the case of the Kazan District Hospital as a Trasnational Study

Dissertationsprojekt von Ruslan Mitrofanov

Betreuer: Prof. Dr. Andreas Renner



Questions regarding the direct effect of government institutions on individuals, as well as its penetration into the individual’s psychosis and everyday life, were boldly raised 60 years ago by philosophers and sociologists such as M. Foucault, E. Goffman, A. Negri and others. This served as practical stimulus for the European movement of the antipsychiatry and so called liberalization of mental services in Italy, Germany, France, etc. In contemporary Russia, and especially in the Soviet Russia, where the Institute of Psychiatry often functioned as a national institution - "suppressor of dissent," deinstitutionalization of psychiatry did not happen and it still functions as a loop system. Many issues related to humanizing psychiatric patients and improving their psychological and physical conditions in hospitals remains unresolved.
In opposite to this historical background, our research project states that in the case of the Kazan District Hospital, the rise of Russian Imperial psychiatry was a story which was not tied to regional or national boundaries, but was involved in the broader, transnational context of German, French, British and other European models of institutionalization of psychiatry at the beginning of the 20 century. Drawing on reports from the Kazan District Hospital, as well as other secondary sources, our research seeks to formulate new analytical language for defining Russian practices of institutionalization of psychiatry in the logic as non-national/cross-border institution. It is necessary to understand how the establishment and development of the institutions of psychiatry in imperial Russia occurred, because their legacy can be found in Russian psychiatric hospitals today’s. Which differences and similarities can be identifying between the Western European and Russian models of treatment? How was established a dialogue between metropolitan and provincial experience in building psychiatry projects? Our research project, «The Institutionalization of Psychiatry in the Russian Empire: the Case of the Kazan District Hospital as a Transnational Study», seeks to problematize these deep and still relevant issues for contemporary Russian society.