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2023 Cheiron Book Prize Winner

Assistant Professor of History, Washington University in St. Louis

The winner of this year’s Cheiron Book Prize is Christina Ramos, Assistant Professor of History, Washington University in St. Louis, for her, Bedlam in the New World: A Mexican Madhouse in the Age of Enlightenment, published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2022.  This book features a rich social history of the San Hipόlito hospital, which was erected in the center of Mexico City in 1567 and remained in use until 1910.  San Hipόlito hospital is significant because it was the first hospital for mad patients in the Western Hemisphere. Moreover, given its location and timing, a history of San Hipόlito hospital underscores psychiatry’s colonial history and the intersection of madness, medicine, religion, and colonialism. The book is enriched by case studies of individual patients drawn from the hospital archives as well as from those of the Inquisition and the secular courts, which used the hospital as a place of confinement for troublesome cases that were not clearcut heretics or intentional criminals.  This history also explores Spain and the Hispanic world at the center of the Enlightenment. It also depicts the prominent and enduring role of regular clergy in both the conceptualization and detection of types of madness as well as in the treatment and care of those assumed to be afflicted with madness.

The Book Prize Committee, comprised of Jennifer Bazar, Nancy Digdon, Michael Pettit, and Kelli Vaughn-Johnson, congratulate Dr Ramos for this accomplishment.