Human Rights Lecture--Global Mental Health & Its Critics


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  • Speaker: Nancy Rose Hunt, Professor of History, University of Michigan
  • Host Department: cics
  • Date: 01/31/2013
  • Time: 1:00PM - 3:00PM

  • Location: Michigan League Kalamazoo Room

  • Description:

    Global mental health is an emerging field and movement. Disagreements have developed among psychiatrists, anthropologists, and international relations experts about whether global mental health represents a new imperial agenda or a hopeful sign about a new level of human decency. This lecture will examine these debates, while pointing to specific examples of this new kind of international intervention and care.

    Nancy Rose Hunt, Professor of History, has been named a CICS Human Rights Fellow for 2012-2013. A specialist of history and anthropology in Africa, Hunt has long specialized on medical, therapeutic, and gender themes, while paying attention to material objects, everyday technologies, visual culture, and violence. She has published numerous articles and essays on reproductive politics, breastfeeding, nursing, letter-writing, bicycles, comics, and power in colonial situations; as well as on abortion in African novels; colonial technologies and postcolonial debris; and the acoustics of war and humanitarianism. Her first book, an ethnographic history set in the Belgian Congo and then Zaire, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Work, Medicalization, and Mobility (Duke,1999), received the Herskovits Book Prize in 2000. A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo (Duke, forthcoming) analyses two intertwined domains—the securitization of therapeutic insurgency, and the medicalization of infertility—in a part of the Belgian Congo (1908-60), which became iconic as a zone of rubber extraction, war, and horrific violence in the period when Congo was King Leopold’s Free State (1885-1908).

    Professor Hunt is also working on a condensed world history of health and medicine for Oxford University Press. She regularly teaches an undergraduate lecture course called “Health and Illness in African Worlds,” and works with students in the Joint Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History. Since 1985, she had done field research and taught in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, and Burundi, under Social Science Research Council and Fulbright fellowships. A Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in 2001- 02 and at the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin in 2010-11, Hunt will develop and teach a course for CICS on “Global Mental Health Care and Humanitarianism” in Winter 2013. She will also present a public lecture about global traffic in mental health care; and contribute an article to a forthcoming issue of the II Journal on Why Global Mental Healthcare Now?