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The Psychological & Medical Anthropology Seminar Series

The Medical and Psychological Anthropology Seminar provides support and coordination for research and graduate student training in medical and psychological anthropology, global health, and person-centered ethnography.

Grace Urano is the student coordinator of the UCSD Psychological and Medical Anthropology Seminar. Questions about the seminar can be sent to him at

Winter 2020

Seminar 1: Allen Tran

Monday, January 13 | 9:30am-11am | Social Sciences Building 107 - Dean's Conference Room 

Speaker: Allen L. Tran, PhD, Bucknell University


The Politicization of Psychologization: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

The increasing influence of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has made counseling centers in post-reform Vietnam the site of an intensive reconfiguration of the interior self. Counselors argue that CBT’s customizable focus on problematic behaviors is more culturally compatible for patients who are unaccustomed to more open-ended psychotherapies. Yet the very work of self-compartmentalization requires a broader questioning of personal and cultural identity as counselor and client alike must negotiate the cultural forms that assist and resist the internalization of CBT principles. I argue that psychologization in Vietnam is achieved through a reworking, not a replacement, of Confucian and socialist models of the self. The process of recasting everyday life, personal crises, and social relationships in a psychic register through CBT techniques politicizes them by denaturalizing and delegitimizing Confucian and socialist regimes of selfhood.

Seminar 2: Paula Montero

Monday, January 27 | 9:30am-11am | Social Sciences Building 107 - Dean's Conference Room 

Speaker: Dr. Paula Montero, University of São Paulo Brazil


“Public Religions and Sensorial Forms”

Inspired on Birgit Meyer's work on “material religions,” this presentation will explore the process by which Christian religions modified the urban visual landscape of São Paulo by their architectural devices, their music, their public spectacles, and monuments. The talk will concentrate on the comparative analyses of the Catholic/Evangelical public performance taking as empirical examples the Catholic Catedral da Sé (1954) and the Evangelical Solomon Temple (2014) construction process in Sao Paulo. My main interest is to tackle the relations between religions and politics in Brazil, giving special attention to a Brazilian neopentecostal church called The Universal Church of the Reign of God. The end of the dictatorship in 1985 and the new Constitutional Chart in 1988 stimulated and created the necessary conditions for the strategic use of different public arenas by new religious leaderships searching for political legitimacy. Religious public performances in which sensorial perceptions of the sacred are central become a new political strategy to gain political power and popular hegemony.

Seminar 3: Luz Brito

Monday, February 10 | 9:30am-11am | Social Sciences Building 107 - Dean's Conference Room 

Speaker: Luz Gonçalves Brito, PhD candidate at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)


“The Healing Process of Self and Earth: The Emergency of the Immanent Sacred of Nature in the context of Climate Change”“Public Religions and Sensorial Forms”

This presentation mainly concerns some reflections and empirical research held during my period as visiting scholar at UCSD. Spirituality and ecology are considered two realms of secular experience which lead to a search for the ‘pattern that connects’ every being and the things in the world. As a response to ecological crisis, some people sacralize their daily activities and experience healing in connection with the Earth.

Fall 2019

Seminar 1: Katie Rose Hejtmanek


Monday, October 7 | 10am-12pm | Social Sciences Building 107 - Dean's Conference Room 

Speaker: Katie Rose Hejtmanek, PhD, Associate Professor at Brooklyn College 


Training for Life: The Promise of Branded Functional Fitness

Her research investigates self transformative processes, affect, and racial formations in a variety of cultural contexts, from adolescent mental institutions in the US to CrossFit gyms on six continents. Currently, she researches branded functional fitness as a space for salvation and survival in contemporary America. Dr. Hejtmanek has a forthcoming article in American Anthropologist titled, "Fitness Fanatics: Exercise as Answer to Pending Zombie Apocalypse in Contemporary America”. She is also  co-editing a volume on strength sports titled Strong A(s) F(eminist)!: Power in Strength Sports

Seminar 2: Bridget Haas

Monday, October 21 | 10:00 am | Social Sciences Building 107  

Speaker: Bridget Haas, PhD, NIHT32 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Case Western Reserve University


Therapeutic Interventions Amid Immigration Limbo

This presentation will explore emergent themes concerning the intersection of US immigration policies and mental health care, using research data on the therapeutic experiences of two different groups: Cameroonian asylum claimants seeking legal status and newly resettled Congolese refugees.

The talk will investigate the psychic toll of a growing backlog of pending immigration cases (asylum claims and family reunification cases, respectively) among those caught within it. How do situations of protracted uncertainty regarding the outcome of their cases inform the use, meaning, and experience of therapeutic interventions? What are the perceived limitations and possibilities of various mental health treatments in the face of ongoing existential and familial rupture? Through these ethnographic examples, the presentation will also consider the shape and meaning of resilience in these contexts.

Seminar 3: Angela Leocata

Friday, November 1 | 12:15pm | Social Sciences Building 107  

Speaker: Angela Leocata, Graduate Student  Anthropology Department, Standford University


When the Trial Ends: Moral Experiences of Caregiving in a Randomized Controlled Trial in Goa, India

In this presentation, I engage experiences of peer counselors in the Thinking Healthy Program Peerdelivered (THPP), a randomized controlled trial of a psychological intervention for perinatal depression in Goa, India. I explore how caregiving is experienced by peer counselors in an RCT, a context in which care is given for a finite period and is removed at the study’s end. I ask how the THPP trial affects its delivery agents, with attention to how caregiving impacts its caregivers. I suggest that moral aspects of caregiving are particularly relevant for peers, and that the context of an RCT is central to these moral experiences, particularly at a trial’s end, when peer counselors are asked to end care that, in many cases, remains needed.

Spring 2018

Seminar 1: Fernando Ciello


Speaker: Fernando Ciello

Date: Wednesday, April 4, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Location: SSB 107


Fernando graduated in Social Sciences (2009) and has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology (2013). Currently he is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology of Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC, Brazil) and is a Visiting Scholar at UC San Diego in the Fulbright Program. His work has focused in the ethnographic study of mental health field in Brazil from the perspective of Anthropology of Health.

"Of Other Realms, Entities and Meanings: Studying Mental Health in an Outpatient Clinic in Southern Brazil”

This presentation discusses my fieldwork in a psychiatric day clinic in southern Brazil. It examines how religious and psychotherapeutic interpretations of self and healing are constantly being evoked and interwoven into therapeutic conceptions and practices. What I take as religious interpretations are not discrete or static conceptions but, in fact, heterogeneous statements that refer to spirits, lights, energies, colors, seeing and talking to other entities. Similarly, when I talk about psychotherapeutic interpretations, I call attention to a diversity of psychological and therapeutic schools that are practiced within the day clinic program, including psychoanalysis, transpersonal psychology, and psychodrama. Both groups of practices/discourses should not be seen as opposed or contradictory but, rather, as crucial in shaping important psychiatric artifacts in that context. Mental health, here, is experienced from the perspective of a world populated with different entities – that include the powers of biomedicine and medication, but also deal with the unknown, the energetic and the spiritual. As a result, instead of describing the clinical practices as expressing a discrete and well-defined conceptual orientation – either that of the religious or mental health perspective – I choose to think about both realms as intertwined.

Seminar 2: Professor Claire Snell-Rood

Speaker: Professor Claire Snell-Rood

Date: Wednesday, April 18, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Location: GPS RBC Room 1201


Claire Snell-Rood is an Assistant Professor in Health and Social Behavior in the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research explores the social dimensions of health among women living in poverty, which she has examined in urban India as well as rural Appalachia. Her book, No one will let her live: women's struggle for wellbeing in a Delhi slum, is published with UC Press and received an honorable mention for the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize. Her current research employs implementation science perspectives to address mental health disparities in the rural U.S.

Does the “Moral Self” matter for applied medical anthropology? Thoughts from Urban India and Rural Appalachia

Though morality, ethics, and care remain prominent themes in medical anthropology research on structural violence, their relevance for applied research has been less explored. In this talk, I bring together studies on moral wellbeing among women living in Indian slums and on rural women’s depression to suggest how the “moral self” may yield both broad directions and specific strategies to address trenchant health disparities.

Seminar 3: Szilvia Zörgő

Speaker: Szilvia Zörgő

Date: Wednesday May 2, 2018, 10:00am-12:00pm

Location: Global Policy & Strategy RBC Room 1201


Szilvia is a doctoral candidate of Mental Health Sciences at Semmelweis University, Budapest, and is currently a Fulbright visiting scholar at UC San Diego. Her research focuses on the sociocultural factors of therapy choice in Hungary and decision-making processes related to health. She is a guest lecturer at the Institute of Intercultural Psychology and Education, as well as the Department of Anthropology, at Eötvös Loránd University.

A peek into the habitus? Complex metaphors of illness and health with regard to therapy choice in Hungary

Medical pluralism not only signifies the availability of various therapies in a given society, but also connotes a nexus of worldviews espousing distinct concepts of world, man, illness, and health. Due to a complex set of sociocultural factors, there has been an increase in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in Western cultures. Patients’ choice of therapy is largely dependent on their information-seeking behavior, explanatory model of illness, and underlying dispositions. In countries such as Hungary, social institutions of integration among Western medicine and CAM are sparse, entailing adverse repercussions in communication between physician and CAM user. The presentation will examine the milieu and sociocultural factors of therapy choice in Hungary with an emphasis
on embodied dispositions. The scrutiny of complex metaphors that patients employ concerning illness and health aspires to shed light on the intricacies of the habitus and decision-making processes, as well as offers a model for the improvement of doctor-patient communication regarding CAM use.

Winter 2018

Seminar 1: Professor Merav Shohet


Speaker: Professor Merav Shohet

Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2017, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

LocationPsychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331

Dr. Merav Shohet is a cultural anthropologist whose specializations in psychological, medical, and linguistic anthropology lead to ethnographically grounded, comparative, language-centered research on affect, morality, and health.

“Waiting with Illness and Care” in Vietnam

Recent decades’ marketization and privatization reforms under the policy of đổi mới (Renovation) have led to a contraction of Vietnam’s public health care system, just as the incidence of hypertension and other diseases has been rising. With a decline in nationalized forms of care, families—and especially women—are idealized as steadfast care-takers who unquestioningly shoulder the burdens of sustaining their own continuity and viability, as households remain the normative and preferred places to care for ill members. Drawing on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Đà Nẵng, this chapter considers how families on the city’s margins cope with terminal illness. Focusing on the case of an elderly matriarch who suffered a series of high blood pressure-related strokes that left her in a permanent vegetative state, I detail the multiple layers of waiting and (lack of) care experienced by the ill grandmother and her extended family. The analysis illuminates how home-based rituals and routines were altered and thereby sustained as the matriarch’s relatives at once anticipated, and yet tried to minimize and ward off their ongoing loss, in part by shrouding the illness in relative silence. In attending to the entanglement of different forms of being-in-time in relation to care, I attempt to show how waiting to and waiting for care are recounted as gendered, troubled, and troubling ethical practices in Vietnam.

Fall 2017

Seminar 1: Hanna Garth

Speaker: Professor Hanna Garth, Ph.D.

Date: Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331

Dr. Garth is a sociocultural and medical anthropologist specializing in the anthropology of food. Her work addresses issues of inequality and structural violence, with regional interests in Latin American, the Caribbean, and the United States

“Shifting Subjectivities” in Contemporary Santiago de Cuba

In this book chapter, I turn to the relationship between food access and individual subjectivity. I use my interlocutors’ dilemmas surrounding the ethics of food acquisition (discussed in the previous chapter) to shed light on their imagined, or possible, selves as a part of ethical subject formation, and explore how they maintain particular social identities. I further refine the book’s central frameworks of the “practices of acquisition” and “the politics of adequacy,” and illuminate how these relate to shifts in subjectivity. I use the dilemmas of food acquisition to shed light on ethical subject formation, and the ways people maintain a sense of self and social identity. I argue that as the welfare state falters, and Cubans are unable to access the foods that they meaningfully link to their cultural and national identities, the emotional response to these struggles gives rise to a shift in their own understandings of their subjectivity.

Introductory Meeting: Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Please join us for the first 2017-2018 meeting of the Psychological and Medical Anthropology Seminar.  We will cover introductions and share updates from the summer and plans for the academic year.

Psychological -Medical Anthropology Lab (SSRB 331) | 10:00 a.m - 12:00 p.m.

Seminar 2: Paula Saravia


Speaker: Dr. Paula Saravia

Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

LocationPsychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


“No hay drama”: Precarity, Medicine, and Gender among mental health and HIV-AIDS patients in Northern Santiago, Chile

During the last decade, there has been an increase in the diagnosis of mental health illnesses and HIV-AIDS in the rural, semi-rural and mostly underserved communities of the Northern metropolitan area of Santiago, Chile. At the same time, the local mental health care center in Lampa and the National Network of Original Peoples (RENPO) reported to the Ministry of Public Health their concerns about the interaction between mental health diagnoses, HIV-AIDS, and ethnicity. According to RENPO, indigenous peoples and Haitian migrants are most vulnerable and at risk of suffering from mental illness and HIV-AIDS. However, despite their efforts, the request for an urgent public health strategy has gone unanswered. What are these very alarming statistics and the government silence about this problem showing about the experience to live and be ill in rural and semi-rural Santiago? What are the meanings behind the narratives of precaritization, alcoholism, and abandonment expressed by mental health and HIV-AIDS patients in Lampa? In this presentation I discuss the epidemiological information in relation to the experience of mental health and HIV-AIDS patients who are receiving treatment in the public health care system in Lampa. 

Spring 2017

Seminar 1: Jonathan Yahalom


Speaker: Jonathan Yahalom, Ph.D.

Date: Monday, June 5, 2017, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


Alzheimer’s in Oaxaca: Pragmatic Etiologies and the Experience of Social Suffering

This presentation addresses the lived experience of Alzheimer’s disease in Oaxaca, Mexico. Drawing on fieldwork and interviews conducted with family caregivers in the Zapotec language, this presentation explores the ways in which age-related forgetfulness serves as a prism to identify macro-level changes within the Oaxacan community. Etiological notions of Alzheimer’s disease will be analyzed in the context of this social dynamic and further assessed for the concrete effects they import on caregiving households. The lived experience of caregiving will also be explored to illustrate the way in which this practice exemplifies notions of social suffering, and how this dimension of caregiving experience reveals social attempts to address and resolve related community tensions.

Seminar 2: Salih Can Aciksoz


Speaker: Salih Can Aciksoz, Ph.D.

Date: Monday, May 22, 2017, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


War Economies: Abandonment, Sacrifice, Community

How do veterans’ gendered experiences of war disability, care, and healing get entangled with politics?  Drawing on ethnographic research conducted since 2005 with Turkish military veterans of the Kurdish conflict, this talk explores the gendered vicissitudes of medical, familial, and communal forms of care that imprint disabled urban poor veterans’ efforts to recover their health and masculinities. I illustrate how disabled veterans’ shared social suffering draw them into communities of loss as their bodies traverse zones of abandonment and sacrifice. I then show how these communities serve as spaces for both non-medicalized healing and ultranationalist political activism. From an ethnographic vantage point at the intersection of gender, health and politics, this talk illustrates how violent conflicts have long-term political ramifications through their bodily, social, and psychic effects on combatants.

Seminar 3: Jacqueline Leckie


Speaker: Jacqueline Leckie, Ph.D.

Date: Thursday, May 11, 2017, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


Lialia? ‘Madness’, Indigenous Fijians and the Erasure of Historical Memory in Colonial Fiji

The terms ‘madness’ and ‘erasure’ are suggestive of how the label of craziness (lialia) could marginalize and silence from historical memory Fijians with aberrant and dissident actions and thought. The most extreme silencing and erasure of insanity from the community was when Fijians were committed to Fiji’s lunatic asylum. This is one of the Pacific’s longest functioning hospitals  — originally founded in 1884 as the Public Lunatic Asylum and functioning today as St Giles Psychiatric Hospital. Its patients reflected Fiji’s diverse ethnic communities, and although until the 1970s the majority were Indo-Fijians, a large proportion was always indigenous Fijians or i-Taukei. Mental illness within Fijian communities has received little attention but my research has revealed some of the mental suffering behind admissions to St Giles between 1884-1964. This raises questions about how Fijians understood and treated those with mental illness, and the process through which madness became entangled with Western biomedicine and colonial institutions of confinement. Erasure and madness could be manifested through many forms. On one level it could indicate how the real and imagined worlds of the insane have been rendered unknowable and generally lost from history, except for traces in surviving medical or court records, or in village rumor.  At another level erasure could refer to the impetus to remove ‘undesirables’ from the community — a little known village nuisance or a dissident leader who challenged religious, political and traditional authority. This seminar will discuss questions about the silencing of people deemed insane in a cross-cultural context and in the colonial past. 

Seminar 4: Joseph Anderson


Speaker: Joseph Anderson

Date: Monday, April 24, 2017, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


A Home on the Range: A Cultural and Phenomenological Account of Firearm Use in San Diego County

The gun control debate has been raging for decades but it seems that a solution to gun violence is no closer. Despite the high proliferation of firearms in American society, few long term ethnographic studies of gun owners have been carried out. This talk aims to present data from an on-going research project that focuses on several gun owning groups in San Diego County, an area with over 400,000 gun owners. Of particular interest are the sensory, embodied actions of shooting that are so important to those who shoot regularly and this talk represents a preliminary effort to take a phenomenological look at the ways in which guns can act like subjects in the lives of their owners. This gets away from the tired language of the national debate and into the day to day lived experience of gun owners. Other important themes in this field include how new forms of gun rights activism are transforming the political landscape of Southern California and how gendered understandings of gun use are being questioned by an increasing participation by women and the LGBTQ+ community. This data is still in the early stages of being processed, so various methods of interpretation will be presented with an eye towards discussing what might be “good to think with” in relation to this topic. 

Seminar 5: Angel Martinez-Hernaez


Speaker: Angel Martinez-Hernaez, Ph.D.

Date: Monday, April 3, 2017, 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


A Message Without a Bottle: Presence, Crisis, and Anti-biography Among People Suffering From Schizophrenia

People afflicted with schizophrenia have unusual experiences (“extraordinary conditions” following Jenkins) which find a high refraction in our Euro or Western societies. They are considered de-authorized experiences and narratives that depict unreasonableness, strangeness, otherness, difference or, through the clinical lens, diagnostic categories as notions of truth that often end up generating an idea of “total patient” who also requires “total therapy.” They are “ob-scene narratives”, in the etymological sense of the word: offstage. This presentation, based on my long-term research on the lifeworld of people suffering from schizophrenia in Catalonia, will address two aspects related to this phenomenon. Firstly, the subjective dimension, where the crisis of presence generates a plurality of perspectives inhabiting the self in a manner that the being turns into an echo of the world, a world-through-the-being producing anguish and suffering, but sometimes identity and living purposes. Secondly, these experiences are usually perceived in the social worlds as a radical alterity which canvases common sense, understood here as a cultural system. It seems that recognizing the point of view of the others afflicted with psychosis will create an otherness on the first-person pronouns (I, we) and the risk of not-being-in-the-world. Social refraction of psychotic experiences often implies the silence and the emptiness projected onto a person (stigma, social abandon), making him/her conventionally insignificant, a kind of what Terradas has defined as “anti-biography”: what is done against the life of others, and without taking their lives into account.

Winter 2017

Seminar 1: Mark Fleming


Speaker: Mark Fleming, Ph.D.

Date: Thursday, March 21, 2017, 12:00 p.m - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


Behind the Times: Work, Neoliberal Futures, and the Politics of Chronic Disease


This talk will present findings from an ethnographic study of transit workers in San Francisco, a group with excess rates of numerous stress-related, chronic diseases. Through fieldwork in the city’s transit system, I connect conditions and stratifications of chronic disease to the political production and uses of temporality in urban governance. I then interrogate the scientific and biopolitical rationalities through which the bodily impacts of work are made legible and contested. I suggest that understandings of health and chronic disease have been remade by transformations of work in American capitalism.

Seminar 2: Arnaud Dubois


Speaker: Arnaud Dubois, Ph.D.

Date: Tuesday, March 14, 2017, 12:00 p.m - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


Color, Anthropology, Psychology and Technosciences: Genealogy of a Shared 


The shared interest of the works I will analyze in this presentation - from the late 1890’s Rivers’ Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits to the late 1970’s Berlin and Kay’s World Color Survey - is that they try to understand and to define the structural rules of the organization of the mind by studying chromatic discriminations and in reducing color to a perceptual phenomenon with a simple interaction between a colored object and a perceiving subject. One of the challenges of this presentation will be to show that the production of this chromatic knowledge is linked to the techno-scientific instrumental practices that allow the verification of this intellectual speculation. Indeed, this way of thinking « what is a color » is based on a series of professional practices born both in experimental psychological laboratories and in the industrial world in Europe in the mid nineteen century. By studying the construction of this powerful « naturalistic theory of color » by looking specifically at the practice of researchers, the methodologies they use and the materiality of color instruments used in their research, one sees that the dilemma between « objective versus subjective » and the necessity to choose between these two poles of analysis in anthropology is an etic perspective that doesn’t examine the historical and sociological construction of the concept of color. As Goody (1979) has rightly pointed out , "binary categories (...) have hampered our understanding of the structures of knowledge (p. 109). This process of standardization (...) is the result of the application of a graphic technique to an oral material. (139) » Can we say the same for visual and especially chromatic material? Is the « structuralism of color » the application of a binary logic to a field of plural knowledge?

Seminar 3: Dredge Byung'chu Kang


Speaker: Dredge Byung'chu Kang, Ph.D.

Date: Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 12:00 p.m - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


I'm Every Woman: Transsexual Womanhood, Therapeutic Citizenship, and Human Rights in Thailand


The Thai Constitution guarantees equal rights for men and women, but failed to be amended in 2007 to include “all genders.” Advocacy for transgender rights in Thailand is ongoing and contentious, with various strategies being deployed simultaneously. In the last decade, activists have been organizing to depathologize gender identity disorder as a
“severe mental illness,” use female gender identity and body modification as justification to avoid mandatory military service for those born male, and to be able to change sex designations on national identity cards and passports. However, in 2010, the celebrity activist, Nok Yollada, argued for the sexual reclassification of “transsexual ladies” as female based on the legitimizing discourse of international biomedicine. She argued that transsexualism is “a disease and not a choice.” The deployment of therapeutic citizenship as a strategy for transsexual rights, however, reinforces the biopolitics of semi-colonial sexual dimorphism (heteronormative binary gender) to the exclusion of broader gender rights, ignores historical forms of Thai transgenderism, and severs potential alliances with other sexual diversity networks.

Seminar 4: Cassandra Hartblay


Speaker: Cassandra Hartblay, Ph.D.

Date: Tuesday, February 21, 2017, 12:00 p.m - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


Disabling Rehabilitation: Performing Disability and Therapeutic Citizenship in Russia


How do people with disabilities understand themselves as social actors and as Russian citizens? When a group of adult Russians in their twenties and thirties with mobility impairments gathered together for a weekly art therapy group, multiple modes of performing competence, citizenship, and selfhood came into play. This presentation traces the story of the art therapy group's rehearsals and subsequent performance of several skits based on the writings of the Russian poet Aleksandr Sergeevich Pushkin, and describes the social negotiations that unfolded as group members and the facilitating social workers determined what to present and how to present it. In telling this story, I work to unpack how people with disabilities negotiate competing discourses to enact versions of themselves as morally complete citizens. In part, this work examines how notions of therapeutic selfhood move into and take on local meanings in the postsoviet context, and, how this idea is complicated in the context of persistent physical disability, wherein the individual in question is presumed by others to always be a less-than-competent citizen and cultural actor. I argue that therapeutic discourses, by seeking to rehabilitate individuals, individualize the social problem of the stigmatization of disability.  Based on ethnographic research in a northwestern Russian city in the fall of 2012, this presentation combines theoretical vantage points from disability studies and medical anthropology to argue that the psychosocial therapeutic model does not effectively interrupt, but rather reproduces, disability as a  relational inequality. In this way, attention to the perspectives of people with  disabilities themselves recasts our understanding of therapeutic citizenship, and the project of rehabilitation as a whole.

Seminar 5: Leticia Medeiros Ferreira


Speaker: Leticia Medeiros Ferreira, Ph.D.

Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 12:00 p.m - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


Good Practices with Survivors of Torture – The INTEGRA Project


INTEGRA evokes integral, integration, and incorporation. It's our way to address this polyhedron of experiences, of struggle, and recovery. It’s a specialized and holistic therapeutic program for survivors of torture suffering from trauma and at risk of social exclusion. Interventions are based on a combination of forces, bringing the work from different specialists all together: art-therapists, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and somatic-therapists. Dr. Medeiros-Ferreira presents the Exil Assoc. “Good Practices with Survivors of Torture” and focuses on the biography of “The Homeless Diplomat”, in order to illustrate this cultural sensitive approach in everyday clinical practice.

Seminar 6: Steven D. Hickman


Speaker: Steven D. Hickman, PsyD.

Date: Monday, January 30, 2017, 12:00 p.m - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


The Wisdom and Potential of Mindfulness and Self-Compassion in a Busy Life


The growing modern evidence for the transformative power of mindfulness and self-compassion practice is supporting what has been known and practiced for millennia in spiritual and religious traditions worldwide. As a result, empirically-supported mindfulness- and compassion-based programs are now being offered in medical, psychological, corporate, academic and athletic settings, just to name a few. Dr. Hickman will present a broad overview and brief experiential introductions to these practices, as well as a review of some key research findings to pique interest in mindfulness as a personal practice that might improve quality of life, reduce stress and support peak performance for those who attend. Some brief recommendations for followup learning will also be offered.

Seminar 7: Steven M. Parish


Speaker: Steven M. Parish, Ph.D.

Date: Monday, January 23, 2017, 10:00 a.m - 11:50 a.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


How Modern Thought Erased the Self


How can we understand the ambivalence of modern thought about the idea of self?  What does it mean for the study of subjectivities and their personhoods, for moral experience and ethics?  How does the history of this ambivalence shape the larger context of anthropology and psychological anthropology? How has it organized forms of ethnographic refusal? Are we at the end of this history, or is the ambivalent attitude part of a cultural system, and likely to reproduce and reassert itself? These are some of the questions posed in a work-in-progress by Professor Parish.  We will have an open-ended and free form discussion of the issues and concepts, based on excerpts of the draft manuscript, and have the opportunity to think about the opportunities afforded and the constraints imposed on psychological anthropology by the cultural organization of European and North American thought and its institutions. 

Fall 2016

Seminar 1: Nofit Itzhak


Speaker: Nofit Itzhak, Ph.D.

Date: Monday, November 14, 2016, 12:00 p.m - 2:00 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331


Does Religious Healing Work? If so, how? 


In this talk, I discuss how a particular form of contemplative prayer that aims to establish a co-presence with the divine facilitates healing or transformation. I focus on several cases of persons who suffered sudden and traumatic loss of close kin, examining the manners in which prayer either works or fails to elicit change. In doing so I suggest some of the possible mechanisms behind the therapeutic function of this form of prayer, asking what an investigation of religious healing has to offer us in theorizing processes of change more broadly. 

Seminar 2: Ted Gideonse

Gideonse Pic

Speaker: Ted Gideonse, Ph.D.

Date: Friday, October 28, 2016, 12 - 2 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331

Seminar 3: Dredge Byung'chu Kang

Dredge Kang

Speaker: Dredge Byung'chu Kang, Ph.D.

Date: Monday, November 28, 2016, 12 - 2 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331

 Spring 2016

Seminar 1: Thomas Ots

Speaker: Thomas Ots, MD, Ph.D.

Date: Monday, April 11, 2016, 12 - 2 p.m.

Location: Psychological and Medical Anthropology Lab, SSRB 331

The End of the Meridian System? Thoughts on a Paradigmatic Shift in Chinese Medicine


In medicine, it is unimportant whether a certain culture-specific view is right or wrong. It is of importance whether a certain view is helpful, whether it empowers healers as well as patients. Acupuncture as part of traditional Chinese medicine was guarded and led by well-known concepts and theories like the yin-yang theory, the meridian theory, the theory of five phases and others. Acupuncturists over the centuries and under the guidance of these theories were able to cure and heal diseased persons. At present at least one of these theories faces a paradigmatic shift – the meridian or channel theory (经络理论). As early as 1978 Chinese doctors of traditional as well as conventional (Western) medicine looked for new ways how to substitute the concept of meridians. One of these new explanatory models was based on segmental anatomy, a view of human biology put forward by the British neurologist Henry Head in 1894. However after the official end of the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” in 1978 these modern views were dumped, because the Cultural Revolution was criticized due to its political upheavals. In 2005, Prof. Huang Long-xiang, Vice President of the Acupuncture Research Institute of the Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Beijing and Editor-in-chief of Acupuncture Research and World Acupuncture wrote: “The Channel Meridian theory has successfully accomplished its historical mission of preserving and developing acupuncture; now it has become the narrow neck of the bottle which is impeding the further development of acupuncture medicine in the 21st century.” However, this showed to be a solitary statement which obviously was pulled back some time later.

Thomas Ots will discuss the cultural, social as well as political implications of the slow speed of this
paradigmatic shift – a shift that probably got stuck.

Seminar 2: Utpal Sandesara