Skip to Content

Department of Anthropology

Madeline Atwell awarded Bilinski Fellowship to study effects of institutionalization

This article was written with Madeline Atwell.

Madeline Atwell has been awarded the Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship. She's studying the biological impact of institutionalization on early to mid-20th century women who were patients in U.S. state mental hospitals.  

Her project combines available documentary data such as historical newspapers and asylum records with skeletal analysis of women to provide unprecedented insight into the social and physiological experiences of the mentally institutionalized. One of the many interesting aspects of her work is the focus on intersectionality, or how a person's different social identities affect their experiences. Atwell will explore how gender, social status, and geographical location contributed to women’s susceptibility to institutionalization and subsequent medical treatment. Ultimately, her project investigates how inadequate care within public institutions contributed to poor health outcomes among a vulnerable population. 

Looking forward, she hopes that her findings will contribute to improving the policies of present-day psychiatric care so that future patients may be offered adequate mental healthcare treatment. 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.