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Online video documentation of Prof. Dr. Arthur Kleinman lecture

News vom 10.10.2011

A video documentation of the lecture

“Anthropology and Cross-Cultural Mental Health: The Major Questions for Future Research and Practice”

of Prof. Dr. Arthur Kleinman (Harvard University), held on 28th June 2011, is now available online.


Online documentation of the lecture


The lecture …

… reviews the current state of global mental health, cultural psychiatry and psychiatric anthropology. Emphasis is given to what anthropology contributes through new ethnographic understandings of culture (both of lay populations and biomedicine) and cultural competence; of diasporic and homeland populations; of migration; of psychiatric categories and practices; of values, local and global; and of global health implementation.

Five major questions are raised for future research and practice:

(1) What is the difference between social suffering and psychiatric conditions? How does that difference make a difference in practice?

(2) If, as argued elsewhere (Kleinman), ground zero for patients with psychosis globally is moral death and social exclusion, what is the implication of going beyond the idea of stigma to redefine in cultural terms what is at stake for patients and caregivers in the most severe psychiatric conditions?

(3) The paradox of global pharmaceuticals for psychiatric disorders - under-diagnosis and absent treatment for the poor; over-diagnosis and abuse of treatment for middle class and well-to-do - how is it best operationalized in theory and empirical studies? How will pharmaceutical power influence cross-cultural practice and global mental health policy?

(4) How do ethics, forensics and caregiving fit in with cross-cultural professional and family-based mental health practices?

(5) How do we refigure biosocial and cultural approaches to mental health care to encompass the new neurobiology and brain research?


Arthur Kleinman …

…has been trained both as a physician and anthropologist. He is a Professor of Anthropology, Professor of Medical Anthropology in Social Medicine and Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University. He is also the Director of the Harvard University Asia Center.

Prof. Kleinman is a leader of medical anthropology and global health. He has conducted research in Chinese society since 1969 and has been involved in activities in other Asian societies including Japan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

His first book, Patients and Healers in the Context of Culture (1979), offered the first description of Taiwan’s health care system. In 1986 he published one of the earliest studies of the survivors of China’s Cultural Revolution (Social Origins of Distress and Disease: Neurasthenia, Depression and Pain in Modern China). In more recent years he has led programs on pandemic flu in Asia, SARS in China, and global mental health. His most recent book, What Really Matters: Living a Moral Life Amidst Uncertainty and Danger, examines the effect of social change on moral experience.  His co-authored book: Deep China: The Moral Life of the Person. What anthropology and psychiatry tell us about China today will be published in September 2011.

Kleinman has lived in Asia for six and a half years. He is an honorary professor at Fudan University in Shanghai and co-Director of the Harvard-Fudan Medical Anthropology Collaborative Research Center.

Kleinman is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is also a recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Science from York University (Canada); and the 2001 winner of the Franz Boas Award of the American Anthropological Association, its highest award. He is a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.


The event has been organized by:

    * The SeGeMi - International Research Project on Mental Health and Migration, financed by the Volkswagen Foundation;

    * Charité, the University Clinical Centre of Freie Universität and Humboldt Universität Berlin;

    * The Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Thematic Cluster Medical Anthropology (Freie Universität Berlin);

    * and the Center for Area Studies (Freie Universität Berlin).


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