The Asylum as ‘Middle Ground’: Contestations and Negotiations
By the early twentieth century, Bombay’s colonial asylum system had become a failed colonial enterprise. This chapter examines the power relations between the asylum bureaucracy and the role of a highly fragmented colonial official hierarchy as a cause of the failure of the asylum system between 1793 and 1921. It argues that internal power contestations paved the way for negotiations with local people transforming Bombay’s colonial asylum into a ‘middle ground’. Using the agency of superintendents as the lynchpin, the chapter examines the complex relationships and encounters between colonialism and Indians as they contested, resisted, and co-existed with each other. The creation of the asylum as a ‘middle ground’ in the colony meant that while some form of control was executed over patients, colonial hegemony was never achieved.