Old Black Cloud reviewed on Kete


Old Black Cloud: A cultural history of mental depression in Aotearoa New Zealand by Jacqueline Leckie is reviewed on Kete: 

‘Don’t be put off by the foreboding cover. Jacqueline Leckie’s latest book Old Black Cloud: A cultural history of mental depression in Aotearoa New Zealand is a highly accessible, uniquely insightful, and in-depth exploration of mental depression as an intrinsic part of our national fabric. 

Leckie covers events, evolving attitudes and terminology (from melancholia to neuroses to depression) among multiple demographics across the span of postcolonial Aotearoa, illustrating the struggles of both indigenous and immigrant populations through the lens of mental illness. She uses extensive case studies, academic literature, historical records and contemporary media reports to build an intricate picture, one that has all too often been overridden and expunged from the historical record. 

The impact of European arrival and the devastating encroachment of colonisation on Māori are explored, alongside factors familiar to all populations in Aotearoa. Hardship, substance abuse, abuse and conflict within relationships, cultural and geographical dislocation all inform the conversation. From bush-clearing would-be farmers to gold miners to modern individuals across the motu, stories of hope, loss, misunderstanding, and shame are shared, narratives that will resonate for many due to personal experience, memories handed down or intergenerational trauma. ’

Read the rest of the review here