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Research Seminars



Emily Baum
University of California, Irvine Adjudicating Madness: Police Records of the Insane in Early Twentieth-Century Beijing


14 Sept 2017

2:30 p.m.
4.09 Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus



This talk will examine police files from the Beijing Municipal Asylum, a public institution erected in 1908. The facility, which was managed, funded, and overseen by the municipal police force, produced copious records pertaining to the arrest and institutionalization of the local insane. On the basis of these police files, I will discuss the methods by which municipal authorities understood and adjudicated what it meant to be "mad." At the same time, I will also discuss methodological questions pertaining to the interpretation and analysis of these historical documents.


Dr. Emily Baum is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include Modern China, the history of medicine and psychiatry in China and comparative medical history. A forthcoming book project The Invention of Madness (under contract at University of Chicago Press, scheduled 2018), examines the history of insanity in early twentieth-century Beijing.


The Science, Technology and Medicine Seminar, hosted by the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, promotes cross-disciplinary research that straddles the arts, sciences, and medicine. For further information about STMS activities please contact Dr. Ria Sinha at


Co-organised with the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, HKU.


All are welcome. No registration is required.