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Traumatic Pasts in Asia: History, Psychiatry, and Trauma from the 1930s to the Present

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Traumatic Pasts in Asia

History, Psychiatry, and Trauma from the 1930s to the Present

Edited by Mark S. Micale and Hans Pols

406 pages, 21 illus., 4 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-183-7 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (September 2021)

eISBN 978-1-80073-184-4 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit  Buy the eBook! $39.95info on epub formatRequest a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“[This book] presents a more than welcome and extremely successful attempt to ensure that yet unheard sufferers from Burma to Indonesia are given a voice.” • Medicine, Conflict and Survival

“By globalising trauma studies, Micale and Pols break new ground and enrich our understanding of the complex ways in which humans respond to war, genocide and environmental catastrophes…This well-written, engaging, interdisciplinary volume moves the field forward by building a bridge between Western and Asian scholars. Traumatic Pasts in Asia is thus a crucial step in carving a path towards a more global approach to understanding traumatic injury. It identifies where Western-centric conceptions of trauma are problematic, while it also explores universal patterns and experiences, including tensions between state and individual conceptions of traumatic memory. This book should spark interest and ongoing discussions among scholars, policymakers, and members of the public whose lives have been shaped by the traumatic legacies of mass violence.” • New Mandala

“A timely contribution to studies of trauma arising from state policies, drawing attention to the possible ethnocentrism of diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder, to the efficacy of local methods of healing for survivors, and to the challenges of interpreting and memorializing events.” • Janice Matsumura, Simon Fraser University

“This well-written, engaging, interdisciplinary volume moves the field forward by building a bridge between Western and Asian scholars.  It is an important and valuable volume that will be a cornerstone in the ever-growing field of trauma studies.” • Jason Crouthamel, Grand Valley State University


In the early twenty-first century, trauma is seemingly everywhere, whether as experience, diagnosis, concept, or buzzword. Yet even as many scholars consider trauma to be constitutive of psychological modernity or the post-Enlightenment human condition, historical research on the topic has overwhelmingly focused on cases, such as World War I or the Holocaust, in which Western experiences and actors are foregrounded. There remains an urgent need to incorporate the methods and insights of recent historical trauma research into a truly global perspective. The chapters in Traumatic Pasts in Asia make just such an intervention, extending Euro-American paradigms of traumatic experience to new sites of world-historical suffering and, in the process, exploring how these new domains of research inform and enrich earlier scholarship.

Mark S. Micale is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. His publications include Beyond the Unconscious, Discovering the History of Psychiatry (Roy Porter, co-editor), Approaching Hysteria: Disease and Its Interpretations, The Mind of Modernism, and Hysterical Men.

Hans Pols is professor at the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney. His book Nurturing Indonesia: Medicine and Decolonisation in the Dutch East Indies was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018. Apart from investigating the history of medicine in the Dutch East Indies and Indonesia, he is currently involved in several projects that aim to shape the future of mental health care in Indonesia.

Subject: History: 20th Century to PresentMemory StudiesMedical Anthropology
Area: Asia-PacificAsia


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