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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: Events


The re-configuration of "mental health" into a global object of care

The re-configuration of "mental health" into a global object of care
Speaker: Dörte Bemme # McGill University, Montreal, Canada
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Date and Time
1st Dec 2015 16:00 - 1st Dec 2015 18:00
Seminar Room 2, Chrystal Macmillan Building, 15a George Square, Edinburgh, EH8 9LD

Global Mental Health (GMH) has emerged as a novel field of knowledge and practice that seeks to address mental disorders on a ‘global’ scale. My current PhD research undertakes multi-sited fieldwork within the institutional assemblage of Global Mental Health, investigating how GMH re-configures the knowledges and practices that define what a ‘mental health’ problem is and how it can be operationalized in practice. In this talk, I will discuss how an analysis of GMH informed by an ‘anthropology of knowledge’ may open up engagements beyond a ‘cultural’ or ‘local’ framework. I propose that close empirical attention to the shifting conceptual architecture of GMH may yield surprising insights. Two such shifts in the problematization of mental health will be explored: From the search for an underlying ‘nature’ of mental illnesses to the procedural validation of ‘evidence’, and finally to a new emphasis on ‘active ingredients’ in complex interventions that allow for the disaggregation and re-assemblage of mental health knowledge across difference and contexts.

Speaker Biography

Dörte Bemme, MA, is a PhD student in Medical Anthropology at the Department for Social Studies of Medicine, McGill University. Her PhD project undertakes a multisited ethnography of the movement for global mental health, guided by an interest in the production of “global knowledges.” Her work explores the concrete negotiation processes between approaches that seek to standardize psychiatric diagnosis and treatment, and those that regard mental health and illness as socially and culturally contingent. Dörte is a fellow of the Global Health Research – Capacity Strengthening Program (GHR-CAPS). Her most recent publication is titled ‘Global mental health and its discontents: An inquiry into the making of global and local scale’ [with N. D’souza, Transcultural Psychiatry, December, 2014, (51, 6:850-874)]

For any inquiries, contact Sumeet Jain or Stefan Ecks.

Co-organized by Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology and Social Work subject area, School of Social and Political Science.

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