Preventing ‘Unsound Minds’ From Populating the British World: Australasian Immigration Control & Mental Illness 1830s—1920s

Kain, Jennifer S. (2015) Preventing ‘Unsound Minds’ From Populating the British World: Australasian Immigration Control & Mental Illness 1830s—1920s. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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This thesis examines the bureaucratic controls designed to restrict the entry of migrants perceived to be ‘mentally ill’ into New Zealand and Australia in the period between the 1830s and 1920s. It is the first study to analyse the evolution of these practices in this region and timeframe. It addresses a gap in the current literature because it explores the tensions that emerged when officials tried to implement government policy. This study sheds new light on the actions, motivations and ideologies of the British and Australasian officials who were responsible for managing and policing immigration. While there were attempts to coordinate the work of border officials, this proved very difficult to achieve in practice: some immigration controllers were, for instance, receptive to the theories that were coming out of international debates about border control, others retained a parochial perspective. The thesis argues that every attempt to systematise border management failed. The regulation of the broad spectrum of ‘mental illness’ was a messy affair: officials struggled with ill-defined terminology and a lack of practical instructions so tensions and misunderstandings existed across local, national and metropolitan levels. Based on extensive research in British, New Zealand and Australian archives, this study reveals the barriers that were created to prevent those deemed ‘mentally ill’ from migrating to regions imagined as ‘Greater Britain’. It shows how judgements about an individual’s state of mind were made in a number of locales: in Britain; on the voyage itself; and at the Australasian borders. This thesis, by exploring the disordered nature of immigration control, will add a new perspective to the existing scholarship on transnational immigration legislation and Australasian asylum studies. The in-depth examination of border control systems also contributes to our understanding of the links between migration and illness in the British world during this period.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: L900 Others in Social studies
V300 History by topic
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Paul Burns
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2016 10:46
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 23:10

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