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Jennifer Kain


Jen returned to Higher Education in 2009 after an interesting career path, varying from Welfare Rights to Technical Writing in a number of different environments and countries. Since her first degree she has held an ambition to continue studying immigration history, which has been supplemented by her experiences of travelling and living abroad.

In her Masters dissertation, 'From Idiocy to Constitutional Psychopathic Inferiority: How the United States Reacted to the Immigrant ‘Befuddled Masses’,  Jen examined the United States’ attempts to define, visually identify and legislate against immigrants with mental illnesses, at the turn of the twentieth century. Her PhD looks at how this fear of the 'mentally deficient' and the so-called spread of ‘feeble mindedness’ was also evident in the immigration restriction policies of Australia and New Zealand.

Holding joint British and New Zealand citizenship herself, Jen is delighted to be able to focus on this combined British/Australasian history and the ideas around 'good' versus 'bad' British migrants. Her other areas of interest include: Eugenics, the history of mental illness, and the concept of red-hair as an (increasingly negative) identity.


BA (Hons) Social and Economic History & Philosophy, Manchester Metropolitan University, 1993
MA History of the Americas (distinction), Newcastle University, 2010


Preventing 'Unsound Minds' from Populating the British World: Australasian Responses to 'Insane' Immigrants, Circa 1850-1924.


Joe Hardwick and James McConnel

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