SOAS University of London

Department of History

The Politics of Mental and Spiritual Health: India, 1920s to the Present Day

Dr Christopher Harding (Edinburgh)

Date: 11 March 2014Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 11 March 2014Time: 6:30 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

This paper explores India’s transition, during decolonization, from limited colonial-era mental health services to a world of new ideas and practices opened up via emerging networks of Indian and western doctors, therapists, and nurses.
       From Bengali psychoanalysts in Calcutta to Swiss and Canadian missionary psychiatrists in Lucknow and Vellore, this push to open up modernized Indian psy services both to a larger population of users and wider international networks of funding and professional collaboration ensured that some of the most pressing questions of the decolonization era – spanning cultural identities, local and international politics, spirituality, and norms of social and ethical behaviour – came to be debated under the rubric of ‘mental health’.
       The paper lays out the most pressing of these questions, offering a comparative analysis with Japan across the same period and seeking to make links with contemporary work in anthropology on the philosophical and clinical challenges of transcultural psychiatry and mental health.

Organiser: Dr Roy Fischel and Dr Shabnum Tejani