Coloniality and Mental Health, Neurological and Substance Abuse (MNS) Disorders in Guyana’s Prisons Today

Queenela Cameron, Dylan Kerrigan


There is a relationship between the social actions and social structures laid down during colonialism, and the social hierarchies and inequalities that developed as British Guiana moved slowly from British colony to Independent Guyana. From slavery and indigenous marginalisation, to indentureship and colonial social relations, modern Guyana emerges from the legacies of an Imperial project, and most notably “enslavement, immigration, and population management” (Anderson 2019). In the context of Guyana’s prisons today, the echoes and ghosts of this Imperial project can be said to still haunt the grounds and insides of these decaying buildings, as well as stalking the lives and minds of inmates themselves.

Full Text:



Anderson, Clare. 2018. A Global History of Convicts and Penal Colonies. Bloomsbury Publishing.

———. 2019. “An Historical Perspective on Guyana’s Jails.” MNS Disorders in Guyana’s Jails 1825 to the Present Day. 2019.

Anderson, Clare, Mellissa Ifill, Estherine Adams, Kellie Moss. 2020. 'Guyana's Prisons: Colonial Histories of Post-Colonial Challenges', The Howard Journal, Vol 59 No 3. September 2020, ISSN 2059-1098.

Anderson, Clare, Kellie Moss and Estherine Adams. 2020. Insanity and Imprisonment in colonial British Guiana. LIAS Working Paper 2020/4. Leicester: Institute for Advanced Studies.

Antonowicz, D.H. and Ross, R.R., 2005. Social problem-solving deficits in offenders. Social problem-solving and offending: Evidence, evaluation and evolution, pp.91-102.

Arora, Prerna G., and Sarika Persaud. "Suicide among Guyanese youth: Barriers to mental health help-seeking and recommendations for suicide prevention." International Journal of School & Educational Psychology (2019): 1-13.

Barrow, C. 1996. Family in the Caribbean. Kingston, Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers Ltd.

Clarke, K.M., 2010. The Politics of Faith and the Limits of Scientific Reason: Tracking the Anthropology of Human Rights and Religion. Religion and Society, 1(1), pp.110-130.

Hickling, Frederick W. 2002. “The Political Misuse of Psychiatry: An African-Caribbean Perspective.” The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 30 (1): 112–19.

Hodge, M. (1974). The shadow of the whip: A comment on male-female relations in the Caribbean. In O. Coombs (Ed.) Is Massa day dead? Black moods in the Caribbean. New York: Anchor Books.

Forde, M., 2018. Respectable Families and the body politic. Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, 43(4), pp.48-54.

Lee, Judith AB, Stella Odie-Ali, and Michael Botsko. 2000. "The invisible visibles: A study of the needs of the homeless and mentally ill in Guyana." International Social Work 43, no. 2 (2000): 163-178.

Henry, Paget. 1999. Wilson Harris and Caribbean Philosophical Anthropology. The CLR James Journal, 7(1), 104-134. Retrieved August 25, 2020, from

Khan, A., 2003. “Isms and schisms: Interpreting religion in the Americas”. Anthropological Quarterly, 76(4), p.761-774.

Linebaugh, Peter. 2003. The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society in the Eighteenth Century. Verso.

Mignolo, W.D., 2007. Introduction: Coloniality of power and de-colonial thinking. Cultural studies, 21(2-3), pp.155-167.

Mills, C, and E Hilberg. 2018. “‘Built for Expansion’: The ‘Social Life’of the WHO’s Mental Health GAP Intervention Guide.” Sociology of Health and Illness.

Prison Reform Trust. 2016. “Bromley Briefings Prison Factfile Autumn 2016.” London. Briefings/Autumn 2016 Factfile.pdf.

Sarsfield, Rodolfo, and Marcelo Bergman. 2017. “Study of Inmates in Guyana.” Buenos Aires: Center for Latin American Studies on Crime and Violence, UNTREF, Inter-American Development Bank.

Silvia, P. J. 2003. Throwing away the key: Measuring prison reform attitudes. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 33, 2553-2564.

Smith, Leonard. 2014. Insanity, Race and Colonialism: Managing Mental Disorder in the Post-Emancipation British Caribbean 1838-1914. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Thomas-Holder, Barbara. 2007. ‘Street Children, of Guyana’. In Homelessness and Street Children in the Caribbean. Edited by Ronald Marshall, Joe Springer and Ralph Premdas, 71- 96. The University of the West Indies School of Continuing Studies, St Augustine Trinidad and Tobago.

Trotz, D. Alyssa 2003. Behind the Banner of Culture? Gender, ‘Race,’ and the Family in Guyana. New West Indian Guide 77 (1&2): 5–29.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Queenela Cameron, Dylan Kerrigan

We use both functional and performance cookies to improve visitor experience. Continue browsing if you are happy to accept cookies. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

LIAS Working Paper Series

ISSN: 2516-4783

University Home