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RebPsych 2020: Decolonizing Mental Health

RebPsych 2020: Decolonizing Mental Health will now take place as an online series of virtual events. The series will begin with a Keynote Lecture delivered by Prof. Angela Garcia during the Yale Department of Psychiatry Grand Rounds. Please see below for dates, times, and links to the lectures.

Keynote Lecture: 10/9/2020 10:15am to 11:30am EST, Angela Garcia, PhD, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Stanford University. Title: "Rethinking Addiction Recovery: Lessons from the Underground, Adversity." Click here to watch the talk and read the transcript.

The online series will take place on Thursday from 6:00 to 7:30 pm EST on the following dates: 10/15, 10/22, 10/29, 11/05, 11/12, 11/19.

RebPsych Organizing Committee

View a poster for RebPsych 2020

In 1953, the black Martinique-born psychiatrist Frantz Fanon began working for the French psychiatric service in the colony of Algiers. From his position as a psychiatrist, Fanon critiqued colonial psychiatry’s inherent violence and its role in the psychological subjugation of the Algerian people. His work inspired anticolonial and revolutionary movements by political actors, including mental health professionals, across the global South. In the 1970s, Fanon was required reading in the political re-education of activist physicians working with the Black Panthers, and today, Indigenous thinkers continue to cite his writing in their critiques of ongoing settler colonialism in the United States, Canada, and Australia.

RebPsych 2020, to be held virtually through a series of webinars in October and November, asks what decolonizing mental health looks like today, and how we can build on these past efforts. We want to imagine the decolonization of our profession as broadly as possible, and encourage submissions from a diverse array of participants, including health professionals, activists, community organizers, scholars, clients, patients, artists, students, and writers. We hope to raise questions about the colonial institutions and frameworks that currently inform our understanding of mental illness, addiction, or psychosocial distress. For example, as psychiatry continues to “globalize,” how is it complicit in contemporary forms of imperialism? What counts as colonization today? Does it include human beings held in cages at the U.S.-Mexico border, global mental health initiatives, the pathologization of Indigenous culture, or even social justice initiatives within psychiatry? Are efforts to “decolonize mental health” actually in the service of settler colonial frameworks that assuage settler guilt and divert attention away from demands for repatriation of Indigenous land? At the same time, how can psychiatry offer theories and practices for political and psychological liberation and resistance against imperial power, as imagined by Fanon and others?

Possible topics include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Mental health and Indigeneity
  • Providing mental health to victims of colonization, including Indigenous groups
  • Mental health in post-colonial spaces
  • Mental health and immigration
  • Transcultural psychiatry and global mental health
  • Historical trauma
  • Psychological effects of imperialism and racism
  • Gendered dimensions of imperialism
  • History of colonial psychiatry and global mental health
  • Mental health activism
  • Climate change and climate justice
  • Efforts to decolonize the academy
  • Mental health and repatriation of Indigenous land

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