From psychiatric hospital to condominium - urban development and cultural heritage

This project explores the ‘doing’ of cultural heritage of psychiatric hospitals and asylums during, and after, urban development with a particular focus on the remembrance of mad people (mad has been reclaimed by mad studies as an alternative term to mental illness). ‘Doing’ refers to the idea that heritage is a cultural process and a verb that is related to human actions and agency. The project focus on Ulleråker (Uppsala) with comparison to other places. The project explores public art; street-, place- and city block names; and graveyards.  

In this project we address the following questions:

  1. How are mad people remembered at former psychiatric hospitals and asylum sites that have been, or are currently, subject to urban development?
  2. What does the cultural heritage of psychiatric hospital entail of and what processes shape this cultural heritage?
  3. What is the role of sanism in the ‘doing’ of the cultural heritage of psychiatric hospitals and asylums?

The objective of the project is to provide a theory-driven answer to the research questions and provide tools to work with this kind of heritage. A critical discourse analysis will be appropriated to analyze how mad people are remembered and the role that sanism plays in heritage. The method will assist in identifying the discourses and normative processes in the ‘doing’ of heritage. The material will be further discussed using Mad Studies as a theoretical approach. Mad Studies seeks to question sanist discourses with the purpose to interrupt them. 

The project is funded by Formas 2020-2022. 

See also the project page for the concluded project Ulleråker – Functionality norms and cultural heritage.

Part of a large yellow building, four floors, that is part of the old psyciatric hospital in Ulleråker.
Ulleråker. Photo: Calle Eklund (Wikimedia Commons)

Publikationer och presentationer från projektet


Populärvetenskapliga artiklar

Presentationer och media

About the researchers

Cecilia Rodéhn 

Cecilia Rodéhn holds a PhD in Museum Studies from University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She is Associate Professor of Conservation and works as a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University. Rodéhn is the project leader of this FORMAS-funded project. She's also the proejct leader for the network Heritage Transformations, funded by CIRCUS.

Contact Cecilia Rodén

Hedvig Mårdh

Hedvig Mårdh holds a PhD in Art History. She is a researcher at Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University and a senior lecturer in Cultural Studies at Karlstad University. Her research interests include art and artistic practices in former psychiatric hospitals, and stagings of cultural heritage in different media, such as  museum exhibitions, public art, film, and theatre productions. 

Contact Hedvig Mårdh

Last modified: 2022-11-23