Home > "It has made me think": engaging the public with the history of health in the modern Irish prison.

Cox, Catherine ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9865-420X and Wall, Oisín ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7423-3689 (2023) "It has made me think": engaging the public with the history of health in the modern Irish prison. The Journal of Medical Humanities, 44, (1), pp. 73-89. doi: 10.1007/s10912-022-09761-2.

External website: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10912-0...

Since the establishment of the modern prison system in the early nineteenth century, prisons and prisoners have been construed as sites of moral, social, and biological contagion. Historic and contemporary studies show that most prisoners experience severe health inequalities, higher rates of addiction and mental health issues, and lower life expectancy than the rest of the population. They also come from deprived social strata. Yet, these aspects of Irish penal history have been largely neglected in academia and popular histories.

Our article discusses two public history projects-an art installation, The Trial, and a museum exhibition, Living Inside-that engaged different publics with the long history of health and welfare in Irish prisons. Developed by the research team on the Wellcome Trust Investigator Award "Prisoners, Medical Care and Entitlement to Health in England and Ireland, 1850-2000," based at University College Dublin, the projects adopted different methodologies to engage their audiences and explore the experience and management of health and welfare in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Irish prisons. We further examine the different methodological approaches of each project, their varied aims and audiences, and the impacts reported by audiences and participants. The article also considers some of the challenges of doing this kind of public history, both in terms of working with marginalized communities and presenting research about difficult subjects to various audiences.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Crime prevention
Identification #
doi: 10.1007/s10912-022-09761-2
Page Range
pp. 73-89

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