The Making of a Spiritual Contraption: Séances, Psychiatry, Prisons, and Schools, 1830-1930

Kyle Derkson

Award: 2022 Project Grant

Kyle’s research interrogates the connections between religion, psychiatry, prison, and educational institutions in nineteenth-century Canada, framing their relationship as conspiracy. He defines conspiracy as the means through which these institutions withheld or produced knowledge to maintain and legitimize their positions of influence. Using framework of co-conspirators demonstrates the intention of these institutions in creating and upholding systems of oppression through psychiatric and spiritual theories and practices that intentionally omit disenfranchised individuals and communities from systems of knowledge production.

His focus is on the similarities in how these four institutions (psychiatric, carceral, educational, and religious) imagine the body and how these historical relationships continue to inform social determinants of health.