Joseph, Alun E., Kearns, Robin A. and Moon, Graham
Recycling former psychiatric hospitals in New Zealand: echoes of deinstitutionalisation and restructuring
Health & Place, 15, (1), . (doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2008.02.005).
This paper addresses a gap in the understanding of the geography of deinstitutionalisation: the fate of
closed asylums. We contend that the closure process was an exercise in both deinstitutionalisation and
welfare state restructuring, and examine discourses surrounding the re-use of two former psychiatric
hospitals in New Zealand—Seaview in Hokitika and Kingseat near Auckland. Drawing on an analysis of
media coverage and field observation, we consider former asylums as sites of celebrity. We find the
shadow of stigma to be prominent, manifested directly in suggestions that the former hospitals be used
as prisons and in the partial redevelopment of one as a ‘horror theme park’. Indirectly, we see stigma
reflected in the physical deterioration of the asylums prior to closure. While this stigmatising is
attributable in the first instance to deinstitutionalisation, the evidence suggests strongly that it was coopted
and exploited by the forces of restructuring.
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