Constructing Reformatory Identity: Girls' Reform School Education in Finland, 1893-1923
By focusing on one particular re-education institution, this book offers a multifaceted analysis of practices of diagnosis and curing what was defined as delinquency , criminality or disorderly behaviour at the turn of the twentieth century. The study provides an important corrective to the existing accounts of re-education by proposing an approach in which institutional practices are analysed both from above and from below. The book draws attention to the process of reforming identities – the construction of reformatory identities – as the core of residential re-education. Special emphasis is placed on the interplay of notions of gender and social background.
The book is based on extensive archival research drawing from a wide range of new and neglected sources. The primary material includes a unique collection of documents produced by the girls of the Vuorela State Reform School in Finland. Narrative analysis of correspondence, and careful scrutiny of the official sources created for re-educational purposes, form a basis for the investigation of the interaction between pupils’ own self-expression and the aims of re-education in the construction of reformed identities. The practices developed in Finland are carefully contextualised in the European history of re-education.
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