Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Degree Granting Department
Jonathan D. Bethard, Ph.D., D-ABFA
Diane Wallman, Ph.D.
Heide Castañeda, MPH, Ph.D.
Giovanna Benadusi, Ph.D.
Kenneth Nystrom, Ph.D.
asylum, bioarchaeology, institutions, Italian
Institutional bioarchaeology is a growing sub-field within bioarchaeology, particularly social bioarchaeology as informed by the biocultural approach. However, the majority of studies in this vein have primarily addressed English-speaking contexts, to include analyses of institutional assemblages preserved archaeologically, and anatomical collections. The present study examines of the Siena Craniological Collection (SCC) - located in Siena, Italy. The collection was assembled between 1862-1931, and originally contained remains of 1,122 patients from both the general and mental hospitals in operation in Siena during this period (Brasili-Gualandi & Gualdi-Russo, 1989a). In addition to demographic analysis of the Siena Craniological Collection as a whole, this dissertation also undertook osteological and taphonomic analyses of a selected sub-sample of patients of the L’Ospedale Psichiatrico San Niccolò (San Niccolò Psychiatric Hospital - SNPH), as identified by associated archival material. In the present study, demographic, osteological, and taphonomic variables are evaluated in pursuit of the following research goals:
- To understand the demographics of the SCC, including change over time, and how the SCC differs from the demographics of the general population of the Province of Siena.
- To explore the health and lived experiences of the sub-sample chosen for skeletal analysis (SAS), including evaluation of dental health, paleopathological lesions, trauma, and developmental defects.
- To investigate the taphonomic condition of the SAS and how it varies in comparison to a modern anatomical collection.
In contrast to previous skeletal biology-oriented analyses of the SCC (Brasili-Gualandi & Gualdi-Russo, 1989a; Guidotti, Bastianini, De Stefano, & Hauser, 1986; Susanne, Guidotti, & Hauspie, 1985), this dissertation addresses historic patterns of anatomization and institutionalization, as viewed through a bioarchaeological lens. This work expands upon previous bioarchaeological scholarship of historical asylums, addressing a new geographic context, and augmenting the emerging bioarchaeology of institutions, in which skeletal remains have been preserved due to postmortem medical usage. Additionally, a novel theoretical synthesis of structural violence, embodiment, and necropolitics is offered, which seeks to formulate a cohesive analytical picture of the SNPH, and anatomization in 19th and early 20th century Siena, Italy. From these findings, a preliminary framework for conducting a “bioarchaeology of mental illness” is proposed, and subsequently explored, using the dissertation sample. The present study is significant in not only its exploration of a novel geographic context, but also in its pursuit of applied implications to be drawn from the institutional bioarchaeology of asylums.
Scholar Commons Citation
Berger, Jacqueline M., "Of Body and Mind: Bioarchaeological Analysis of Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Anatomization and Institutionalization in Siena, Italy" (2021). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.