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CANCELLED: Lunacy and the Racial Legacy of Milledgeville Hospital: A night of story, song and conversation with Mab Segrest and Tift Merritt

This conversation between two friends, Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tift Merritt and acclaimed activist-author Mab Segrest, celebrates the upcoming release of Segrest’s new book, Administrations of Lunacy: Racism and the Haunting of American Psychiatry at the Milledgeville Asylum. The book, which tells the forgotten history of American mental institutions and its connections to mass incarceration in our time, is being hailed as a “profoundly great book” (novelist Dorothy Alllison) and an “astonishing feat” (Yale historian Glenda Gilmore).  Merritt will perform songs based on what she calls “lyrical presences” found at Dix Hospital and Cherry Hospital two of North Carolina’s psychiatric asylums that for much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries stood on opposite sides of Southern segregation and its racialized treatment of mental illness. The hour will feature songs, stories, and reflections on research in these places of erasure, injustice, and new possibilities for art and historical memory. Manish Kumar and Jalisa Jackson, two students from Professor Segrest’s Fall 2019 class on race and psychiatry, will also speak about their experiences in the course and visiting these sites.

A book signing will follow the performance





Manish Kumar (he/him/his) is a senior at Duke pursuing a Program II in “Policy and Identity as they Affect Health Outcomes.” His research interests involve examining how social constructions of identity influence the way in which marginalized groups experience health and its social determinants. In Dr. Segrest’s class, Manish was most interested in examining how the legacy of racism in mental health institutions has impacted contemporary racial disparities in mental health care.






Jalisa Jackson (she, her, hers) is a Duke junior double majoring in Psychology and African and African American Studies. With hopes to change how mental health services are conceptualized and delivered, especially in marginalized communities, she plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She aspires to fill the gaps in research and improve access to and quality of services provided. In Dr. Segrest’s class, Jalisa took primary interest in interrogating how America’s past relationship with race and mental health informs today’s ideas surrounding mental health and the role of current systems responsible for providing mental health care.




Sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center@FHI, The Forum for Scholars and Publics, Duke’s Social Science Research Institute and the Franklin Humanities Institute.


April 1, 2020
5:00 pm - 6:30 pm


Nelson Music Room, East Duke Building