Author: Loh Kah Seng
Format: Paperback, 189 pages
Subjects: Law, Social Studies
Making and Unmaking the Asylum recounts the entangled stories of leprosy in colonial and postcolonial Malaya/Malaysia and Singapore – decades of heavy handed biomedical policies and laws enacted in the name of modernity, science and development, interwoven with the personal accounts of those who were sent to the asylums. The leprosarium was a living hell for many. It is also no coincidence, Loh argues, that the majority of patients were poor and working-class.
Yet this book also richly demonstrates how patients resisted being victims – creating new families, forging friendships, working, joining unions, and actively engaging in their communal religious and cultural lives.
Having struggled to remake the asylums into homes, ex-sufferers in both countries has been evicted or moved again, their personal and collective histories erased, and their real homes exchanged for antiseptic hospital wards, or worse.