Iarlaith Bermingham: Disabled Diasporas: Landscapes of Medical Incarceration and Displacement in the West of Ireland.


Thesis Advisor: Hypatia Vourloumis 

July 2023


This thesis argues that the victims of medical incarceration, specifically in mental health institutions, in the context of the 19th and 20th century Ireland make-up a disabled diaspora. Focusing on the west of Ireland, this thesis will examine how medical incarnation displaces individuals from their homes, languages and cultures. Ireland had the largest population of incarcerated peoples as a portion of their population in the mid-19th century. The majority of that population was made up of people living in mental health hospitals, first established in the 18th century under British rule. This thesis will highlight the artistic and political practices of disabled people institutionalised in these hospitals, and the materials left behind by patients. Through this reading, this thesis will argue that these materials make up a diasporic culture, and how that diasporic reading can support a fuller understand of the experience of medical incarceration and inform an abolitionist position. From this position, this thesis will argue for the solidarity between all incarcer-ated peoples, specifically looking at how ableism is central to all forms of incarceration. Through that, it argues that disability justice should be at the heart of abolitionist action, and vital for fostering an abolitionist imaginary.