AAC : Biennial conference « Pluralizing Global Mental Health : Care, crisis, and critique », Centre for Medical Anthropology, Edinburgh, 9–10 June 2022 — LIMITE : 15/​03/​2022

Call for Papers

The 2022 Edin­burgh Centre for Medical Anthro­po­logy bien­nial confe­rence explores global mental health, as a move­ment, an insti­tu­tion, and a set of concepts. Globally, mental health is said to be in crisis and in urgent need of action. The COVID-19 pandemic has further acce­le­rated the language of crisis, with the pandemic fallout seen to cause both a “tsunami” of mental health problems as well as fears of even less funding being devoted to mental health than before. The 2022 EdCMA confe­rence invites contri­bu­tions from across the social, health and beha­vioural sciences that explore global mental health care, its alleged crisis and its critiques.

The deve­lop­ment of global mental health as an area for the atten­tion of resear­chers, policy makers and imple­men­ters has gained momentum and become a sustained focus globally. This can be traced to several inter­lin­king factors : concerns with the ‘disa­bi­lity burden’ of mental health disor­ders ; the emer­gence of efforts to build an evidence base ; a focus on human rights for people with psycho­so­cial disa­bi­li­ties ; poli­tical advo­cacy for greater resources ; and attempts to ‘scale up’ mental health initia­tives across the globe, amongst others.

In this confe­rence, we open up GMH to greater scru­tiny. Global mental health is partly defined by its nebu­lous boun­da­ries – as a move­ment, an academic concern, a means for gene­ra­ting global concern, and to attract invest­ment. As an academic field, GMH has porous boun­da­ries. It traverses multiple disci­plines, tracing back to deve­lop­ments in cross-cultural psychiatry and medical anthro­po­logy ; but being advanced by deve­lop­ments in epide­mio­logy, imple­men­ta­tion sciences and public health, and incor­po­ra­tion into deve­lop­ment interventions.

As a field of study, or series of concerns, then, GMH is open to different disci­pli­nary inter­ven­tions. Amongst these, medical anthro­po­logy plays a central role – studying its emer­gence as a field ; opening new unders­tan­dings around fami­lial, commu­nity and insti­tu­tional prac­tices of care ; fore­groun­ding local concerns and advo­ca­ting for contex­tually rele­vant mental health systems and modes of amelio­ra­tion ; and offe­ring critique of the very idea of the notion of GMH as such.

Simi­larly, pers­pec­tives from trans­cul­tural psychiatry, critical psychiatry, mad studies, and other social science and prac­tice-based disci­plines (e.g. psycho­logy, psychiatry, nursing, social work) have long ques­tioned the global vali­dity of key psychia­tric and mental health concep­tions of ‘distress’ and inter­ven­tions. In sum, the current land­scape of GMH gives rise to a non-exhaus­tive set of ques­tions that we invite scho­lars to reflect upon at the conference :

  • What do we mean by “global” in GMH ?
  • What are the impli­ca­tions, intel­lec­tual and prac­tical, of evoking the notion of crisis along mental health ?
  • What is the range of opera­tion of GMH initia­tives – research, policy programmes, deli­very of mental health care ?
  • How has the Covid pandemic impacted global mental health stra­te­gies, if at all ?
  • How is ‘evidence’ gene­rated – and what happens in its crea­tion, use, deploy­ment, and contestation ?
  • What are the rela­tion­ships between care and expertise ?
  • What does it mean in prac­tice to colla­bo­rate across disci­plines to inves­ti­gate issues in GMH ? What are the issues of disci­pli­nary power within research prac­tice (field­work, writing) and collaboration ?
  • How are problems pertai­ning to mental health posed in the arts ? How does artistic expres­sion and perfor­mance relate to amelio­ra­tion and expe­rience in rela­tion to GMH ? 
  • How might we deco­lo­nise GMH as an intel­lec­tual project and global, hege­monic intervention ?

We welcome contri­bu­tions from diverse disci­plines, inclu­ding the arts, that criti­cally engage with and advance our unders­tan­dings of mental health across social condi­tions and global contexts. Parti­ci­pa­tion from early career resear­chers and people with lived expe­rience of mental health diffi­cul­ties is parti­cu­larly encouraged.


Please submit 200-word abstracts for indi­vi­dual papers to :
EDCMA.​conference2022@​ed.​ac.​uk in a Word file by 15 March, 2022.

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