SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Kiara Wickremasinghe

BA (Cambridge), MA (SOAS)


Kiara Wickremasinghe
Kiara Wickremasinghe
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Thesis title:
Innovation in Psychiatric Crisis Care: An Ethnographic Investigation into Peer-Supported Open Dialogue (POD) in Inner London (working title)
Internal Supervisors


Kiara holds a Bloomsbury Colleges PhD Studentship (2019) and is currently conducting fieldwork in London towards her PhD in Social Anthropology. Her PhD is part of a broader UKRI ESRC-funded Anthropological Study of Peer-Supported Open Dialogue (APOD), which is following an ongoing NHS randomised controlled trial in psychiatric crisis care.

Kiara’s research path thus far has been diverse, having read for a BA in Geography at the University of Cambridge (2016) and an MA in Music in Development at SOAS (2017). Her master’s dissertation examined musical responses to disaster following the 2004 Tsunami in Sri Lanka. Her research interests turned to mental health during her master’s when she conducted research on the impact of collaborative music workshops for service users recovering from psychosis and accessing care in a London community mental health team.

PhD Research

The Anthropological Study of Peer-Supported Open Dialogue (APOD) of which my PhD research forms a component, represents an institutional ethnography of an NHS trial on Open Dialogue, a Finnish innovation seeking to implement a person-centred and social-network approach that humanises psychiatric crisis care. My PhD research focuses on the ‘P’ in POD, namely the premise that ‘peers’, a contested term indicating those who have experience of mental distress and/or access to services, will be at the heart of this approach.

Alongside anthropological research training, I have spent the past year undergoing Open Dialogue training in order to observe and actively participate in meetings with clients and their social networks. I am currently in my fieldwork year and based in a community mental health team serving a socially and culturally diverse inner London locality, as both a practitioner and researcher. Occupying dual identities affords opportunities and challenges from an ethnographer’s point of view, alongside working against the tide in terms of delivering mental health care during a pandemic.