Diana Louis

color photo of Diana Louis
Job Title: 
Program Co-Director, Black Feminist Health Studies; Assistant Professor of American Culture and Women’s Studies
Office Address Line 1: 
1122 Lane Hall
Email Address: 
dmlouis@umich.edu

Dr. Diana Martha Louis’ research pursues the intersections of Disability Studies and Critical Race Studies with respect to issues of mental illness in African American life. Her current project, The Colored Insane: Slavery, Asylums and Mental Illness in 19th-Century America examines the impact of major transformations in both American psychiatry and African Americans’ social condition — the end of one of America’s prototypical institutions of confinement and the expansion of another, slavery and asylums, respectively. It tells the story of how nineteenth-century psychiatric discourses made African Americans mad by both constructing disorders according to prevailing notions of race and insanity, and inflicting real psychological harm within asylums, plantations, jails, and society writ large. Further, it shows how Black intellectual thought on mental illness, or African American “anti-slavery psychiatry (ASP),” challenged reigning psychiatric beliefs. The Colored Insane reveals that multilayered, ubiquitous and ongoing experiences of insanity (real and imagined) among 19th-century African Americans set the stage for black experiences with mental illness for generations to come.

Dr. Louis is beginning a second project that explores mental illness and psychiatry among blacks at nineteenth-century asylums in other parts of the African Diaspora including Black Rock Hospital in Barbados, West Indies and Lutindi Hospital in Tanzania, East Africa. 

WORKS WITH

color photograph of Nadine Hubbs
Program Director, Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative; IRWG Executive Committee; Professor of Women's Studies, LSA; Professor of Music, School of Music, Theatre & Dance
color photograph of Victor Mendoza
Program Director, Colonialism, Race, and Sexualities Initiative; Associate Professor of Women's Studies and English Language and Literature, LSA
color photo of Lisa Martin
IRWG Executive Committee; Associate Professor, Health Policy Studies; Associate Professor of College-Wide Programs; Director, Women in Learning & Leadership U-M Dearborn, Co-Director Sexual Harassment and Social Movements
color photo of Ava Purkiss
Program Co-Director, Black Feminist Health Studies; Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and American Culture
color photo of Ella August
Program Director, Building Capacity for Women’s Health, and Clinical Assistant Professor of Epidemiology, SPH
Associate Professor of Sociology; Director, Women in Learning & Leadership, Co-Director Sexual Harassment and Social Movements
Associate Professor of Surgery, Medical School
Associate Professor of Surgery and Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Medical School
photo of Emily Sluiter
Program Director, Consortium for Gender Responsive Prisoner Healthcare
photo of Jacqueline Williams
Program Director, Consortium for Gender Responsive Prisoner Healthcare