Monika Ankele
IFK_Research Fellow

Duration of fellowship
01. March 2017 bis 30. June 2017

Monika Ankele


The Hospital Bed as an Object and Space. On the Material Culture of Psychiatry in the 19th and 20th Centuries


The hospital bed remains, up until today, a central component in our conceptions of illness and treatment. With the turn of the 20th century introduction of bed treatment the hospital bed became a central element in psychiatric treatment – a "medicine" in the strict sense of the word. Sick persons were treated, often over the course of weeks and months, while lying in bed. The medical sphere of psychiatry, which unfolded its epistemological function, defining structure, and therapeutic effect through the object of the bed, stood directly opposed to the sphere which patients experienced (lying down) and being reduced in their actions to the bed. The goal of the project is, using the example of the hospital bed, which is conceptualized and analyzed as a space and an object, to work out historical perspectives on a material culture of psychiatry.


Monika Ankele studied history in Graz, Vienna, and Berlin and obtained her doctorate with a thesis on self-testimonies of psychiatric patients from the Prinzhorn Collection. Since 2012, she has served as a research fellow at the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine of the University Medical Centre Hamburg-Eppendorf, and is currently working on a DFG project that addresses the material culture of psychiatry and focuses on, among other examples, the hospital bed.


„Horizontale Szenographien. Das Krankenbett als Schauplatz psychiatrischer Subjektivation“, in: Lars Friedrich, Karin Harrasser, Céline Kaiser (Hg.), Szenographien des Subjekts, Berlin / New York (im Erscheinen); gem. mit Eva Brinkschulte (Hg.), Arbeitsrhythmus und Anstaltsalltag. Arbeit als Therapie in der Psychiatrie vom frühen 19. Jahrhundert bis in die NS-Zeit, Stuttgart 2015; „Am Ort des Anderen. Formen der Raumaneignung in Psychiatrien um 1900“, in: Dagmar Hänel, Alois Unterkircher (Hg.), Medikale Räume. Zur Interdependenz von Raum, Körper, Krankheit und Gesundheit, Bielefeld 2010, S. 43–63; Alltag und Aneignung in Psychiatrien um 1900. Selbstzeugnisse von Frauen aus der Sammlung Prinzhorn, Wien/Köln/Weimar 2009.

„Bedside scenes. On the scenography and performativity of the sickbed, Symposium „Spectacular Evidence“, Artsadmin, London, 24.03.2017

IFK_Research Fellow Monika Ankele hielt am 24. März 2017 in London im Rahmen des Symposiums „Spectacular Evidence“den Vortrag „Bedside scenes. On the scenography and performativity of the sickbed". Siehe Youtube.


Aufführen - Aufzeichnen - Anordnen

Monika Ankele (IFK_Research Fellow im Sommerstemester 2017), Céline Kaiser und Sophie Ledebur (IFK_Research Fellow im Wintersemester 2018/19) veröffentlichten soeben: AUFFÜHREN - AUFZEICHENEN - ANORDNEN, Wissenspraktiken in Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie im Springer-Verlag.


Monika Ankele / Benoît Majerus (eds.): Material Cultures of Psychiatry

Coming soon:

transcript, independent academic publishing:

Material Cultures of Psychiatry

In the past, our ideas on psychiatric hospitals and their history have been shaped by objects like straitjackets, cribs and binding belts. These powerful objects are often used as a synonym for psychiatry and the way psychiatric patients are treated, but very little is known about the agency of these objects and their appropriation by staff and patients. By focusing on material cultures, this book offers a new gaze on the history of psychiatry: it allows a narrative which shows »doing psychiatry« to be a complex entanglement where power is permanently negotiated. Scholars from different social sciences show how this material gaze ensures a critical approach while opening up the field to alternative questions.

  • Lecture
Monika Ankele

Als psychiatrische Anstalten um 1900 die Bettruhe als Behandlungsmethode einführten, erfuhr das Krankenbett als Objekt, an das therapeutisches Handeln delegiert werden konnte, eine veränderte Aufmerksamkeit. Wie sich eine Geschichte der Psychiatrie darstellt, die aus der Perspektive eines Krankenbettes erzählt wird, fragt Monika Ankele.