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Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology 
University of Warsaw

Żurawia 4, 00-503 Warsaw
tel. +48 22 55 316 11/ fax. 22 55 316 12

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Clinical interpretations and ordinary lives: Stories from psychiatric anthropology

Panel titled Clinical interpretations and ordinary lives: Stories from psychiatric anthropology will take place at the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences’ (IUAES) Inter-Congress “World Solidarities” in Poznan, Poland, in August 2019.

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This panel is an immersion in sensitive ethnographies that document contemporary engagements with mental health services and systems, psychiatric discourses, and therapeutic practices around the world. Writing about Iran, Orkideh Behrouzan (2016) draws attention to how the normalization of the psychiatric vernacular has engendered new ways of knowing, interpreting, and perceiving oneself and others in the world. A growing literature shows how nuanced ethnographies can illuminate local ‘ecologies of suffering’ (Jadhav et al, 2015:13) that can be used to inform and question constructions of mental health as global (Jain and Orr, 2016).

Engaging with this, the panel will focus on specific ways that the psychotherapeutic language and practice penetrate the everyday life of people grappling not only with mental distress but also with the external ambiguities of how mental health and its ‘treatments’ are understood in their, and others’, societies.

We aim to foreground the voices of variously situated actors who (struggle to) make sense of different mental states (their own and those experienced by others) against a landscape where mental health is positioned as global. We are interested in the stories of those who are engaged in ‘doing’ mental health through the ‘tinkering’ of acts of care (Moser, Mol, 2002 , 2010) – in clinics, homes, community centres, schools, centres for elderly people , primary care settings, and more. Focus is on how mental health is ‘done’ and what diagnostic categories ‘do’ (Mills and Hilberg, in press) in diverse sites around the world.

Orkideh Behrouzan kindly took our invitation as a discussant. The list of all the panels can be found here.

We very much hope to see you in the summer! 
China Mills, University of Sheffield/ City University London, e: china.mills@sheffield.ac.uk & Anna Witeska-Młynarczyk, Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw, e: anna.witeska@gmail.com