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Migration and Mental Illness in Literature

Research project Migration and Mental Illness in Literature

This project offers a descriptiveand systematic analysis of the inter-relationship of migration and mental illness in literaturebefore the twentieth century. This theme constitutes both a significantpresencein literary history and an urgent topic of contemporary social relevance. The correlation of mental illness with migration, and the commonly associated experiences of political and cultural alienation, disempowerment, trauma and prejudice, is well establishedin the fields of psychiatry, ethnography and history. Although many literary textsstand witnessto the cognitive and emotional strains involved with geographical and cultural displacement, this questionhas not been systematically considered in contemporary literary studies or literary history. A handful of individual studies concern particular writers and their treatment of the inter-related experience of mental illness and migration, but nocomprehensive studyexists. This project fills that gap by investigatinghow literary texts articulate the associationof mental illness and migration, both over time and through in-depth case studies rooted in their literary,socio-cultural and historical contexts.

Head of project

Project overview

Project period:

2017-06-01 2022-06-01


Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond

Participating departments and units at Umeå University

Department of Language Studies

Research area

General literary studies, History of ideas, Public health and health care science

Project description

Project Aims:

1.To delineateand theorize comprehensively a field of literary study: the inter-relationshipof migration and mental illness
2.To provide new in-depth case studies rooted in historical contextsand situated in relation to the literary history of the theme of migration and mental illness
3.To disseminate the results through both scholarly publications and adiverseprogramme of public engagement
Latest update: 2018-06-28