ASI 2014 - Introduction by Laurence Kirmayer
Dr. Kirmayer introduces the 2014 Advanced Study Institute (ASI) on The Politics of Diversity: Pluralism, Multiculturalism and Mental Health.
Topics to be covered during the ASI include:
- How is the "Other" constructed psychologically, socially and politically?
- What are the consequences of "othering" for the mental health and well-being of individuals and communities?
- What are the implications of recent challenges to multiculturalism and attacks on diversity in the public space for the health and well-being of populations?
- How can mental health research, policy and practice address the challenge of social integration in culturally diverse societies?
Uzma Jamil - "Vivre ensemble" through Difference: The Construction of Muslims as Other in Quebec
The difference of Muslim minorities living in multicultural, Western societies is often posed as a problem, if not a threat, to national identity and social cohesion. This conceptualization of Muslim difference draws from Orientalist discourse which constructs the Muslim Other in relation to the West as a negative, as a “lack of” certain qualities which define the West. Critiquing this essentialized and fixed relationship, this paper considers how difference is constructed through a process contextualized within minority-majority relations, in other words, arguing that the difference of Muslims as minorities is socially and political constructed through the difference of the majority. Applied to the case of Quebec, the ways in which Quebec conceptualises itself as different in relation to English Canada - through language, culture and national identity - shapes the ways in which it articulates the difference of Muslim minorities as Other. This argument is illustrated through two examples, the public discourse about Muslims in relation to the proposed Charter of Quebec Values in 2013-2014 and the reasonable accommodation issue and the Bouchard-Taylor Commission in 2007-2008.
Daniel Weinstock - Feminism, the Veil, and the Problem of False Consciousness (ASI 2014)
Defenders of Muslim women's right to veil (and of women of other faiths' rights to engage in practices which are judged by mainstream feminists as betokening female subjugation) often point to the fact that many women who veil claim to be doing so freely, in the absence of all coercion of constraint. Some feminists retort that these women are victims of "false consciousness." Their claim is that these women have so fully internalized patriarchal norms that their coerced actions appear to them to be free. My paper will examine arguments of false consciousness in the context of liberal democracies. On the one hand, such claims must be used with great parsimony in a political culture which is hesitant to intervene paternalistically in the choices made by citizens. What's more, false consciousness arguments are suspect in that on the face of it they fail the Popperian test of falsifiability. On the other hand, it is hard to deny that some women do find themselves in oppressive conditions that tend to favour the formation of adaptive preferences. My goal is to develop a liberal theory of false consciousness, one that, first, insists upon respecting the choices made by women against the backdrop of fair background conditions, but that questions those arrived at when such conditions are lacking, and that, second, adopts modes of intervention in cases of false consciousness that avoid paternalistic excesses.
Natacha Premand - Black Sheep and Mass Immigration: The Use of Caricature in Rejection of the “Other” (ASI 2014)
In recent years, right-wing political parties in Switzerland have initiated several referenda on issues pertaining to the admission and residency of foreigners. In this paper, I will examine the ways in which the “other” is constructed in the political discourse of Switzerland’s Union Démocratique du Centre, one of the instigators of these referenda. I will argue that the image of foreigners in official discourse as important contributors to Swiss society and the economy is successfully undermined by their depiction by the right wing as “black sheep” – literally so in one controversial but effective advertising campaign. By also associating negative characteristics with particular ethnic groups, the right seeks to elicit fear and rejection. This contributes to establishing negative connotations with respect to all foreigners or minority groups, regardless of any explicit or specific voicing ofconcerns. In response to these campaigns, the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recommended that the Swiss Federal Commission on Racism be given more independence from government and be empowered to regulate the media and politicaldiscourse. The paper attempts to better define the space created by these campaigns as a site of impact on the mental health of foreign populations and minority groups that has been neglected and is in need of urgent study.
Ghayda Hassan - The Québec Charter of Values and the Future of Living Together in Québec (ASI 2014)
This two-arm mixed-method study assessed the discourse around the Quebec Charter and its impact on the future of living together in Quebec. The first study used a qualitative design to thematically and critically analyze discourses around the Charter and hate-based events/discourses targeting minorities and published in official media. Results show that positions tend to be polarised and use an ideological discourse based on overlapping of religion and gender equality with an underlying association of religion with extremism and terrorism, thus targeting mainly Muslim communities and more specifically, veiled women. The second study consisted of a web survey filled by a targeted sample of 200 university students measuring discrimination, identity, psychological wellbeing and perception of intercommunity relations. Data collection is underway and analyses will consist of multiple regression predictive models.
Abdelwahed Mekki-Berrada - Emotional Distress of Undocumented Sub-Saharan Women in Morocco (ASI 2014)
Morocco has become a "final destination" for thousands of Sub-Saharan migrants heading to Europe. These migrants can no longer reach Europe -- whose borders have been considerably securitized since September 11 -- just as they no longer wish to risk their lives returning south over the merciless Sahara Desert. They consequently find themselves in extended transit in Morocco, which is now the scene of a completely new sub-Saharan migratory movement. Drawing from interpretive and critical medical anthropology, as well as from critical security studies, the main objective of this paper is to discuss results from a research project I conducted in Morocco on the relationships between the securitization/externalization of Euro-Mediterranean borders, the subsequent traumatic experiences of sub-Saharan women migrants in prolonged transit in Morocco, and their emotional distress.
Morton Weinfeld - Ethnic Match in Health and Social Services: Pros and Cons (ASI 2014)
Ethnic match is an approach to the provision of public services in various policy domains, in societies marked with significant ethnic, racial, or religious diversity. Minority recipients of services may be matched with professionals of the same background, receive services in ethnospecific agencies, or receive a type of service which is sensitive to the specific minority culture at issue. This paper explores the evidence that deals with the issue of ethnic match in the provision of mental health care, looking mainly at literature from the fields of psychiatry and psychology, including therapists with backgrounds in social work or counseling. A review of the literature reveals no clear pattern of benefits—or harms—from these various practices for the recipients of service in this particular policy domain. Implications for education, training, and practice will be explored.
Sushrut Jadhav – Caste, Stigma, and Mental Well-being: From Transition to Conversion (ASI 2014)
Sushrut Jadhav, University College London, UK; Bhargavi Davar, Bapu Trust for Research on Mind and Discourse, Pune, India; Sumeet Jain, University of Edinburgh, UK; S. Shinde, Bapu Trust for Research on Mind and Discourse, Pune, India
Dalit "untouchables" in the Indian subcontinent are largely excluded from full participation in everyday social life. They have poorer health outcomes compared to the general population, and are subject to degradation, humiliation and violent atrocities. Yet there is a striking absence of research examining the stigma of Dalit caste identity and its impact on mental well-being of Dalit "untouchables." The paper addresses the nature of stigma associated with being an "untouchable" and how this shifts following conversion to Buddhism. This pilot ethnographic and focus group study was situated in an urban Dalit slum of Pune city, Maharashtra state, India, by a multi-caste, multi-disciplinary team of health professionals and social scientists. Results suggest that the nature of distress related to caste discrimination is both psychological and cultural, with an internalisation of the "gaze" of upper castes, and spatial-temporal dimensions within which both individual and institutional discrimination operates. Whilst Dalits who have not converted tended to aspire to a sanskritised identity, Dalit converted to Buddhism appear to have carved out a political identity to contest the stigma. The strategies employed to deal with discrimination include instrumental actions and political transformation. Dalit conversion to Buddhism suggests well-being is gained through the development of a dignity that results in a more articulate and political identity that contest existing ideas of modernity in India. The authors conclude that the phenomenon of conversion is not absolute. The paper suggest further research towards an examination of cultural landscapes that mediate the stigma of "untouchability"; ethnographic studies of innovative movements that contest and invert Dalit caste identity; and comparison of caste-related and cultural-identity stigma, with stigma associated with more formal mental or physical disorders that have been extensively researched. Furthermore, a study of castes within Indian Buddhists may identify more chronic markers of caste-related stigma. This has implications towards interventions that directly address well-being of "untouchables" in India.
Jaswant Guzder - Internalization of race and difference: implications for psychotherapy in a diverse society (ASI 2014)
Racialized embodiment of ethnic difference has identity implications for visible minorities and may constitute a development line that runs parallel to that of gender identity with similar progression over the life cycle. Internalization of racialized identity and racism is a complex process that involves external agendas as well as intrapsychic realities. Yet the supervision of psychotherapists and family therapist rarely addresses countertransference or transference issues related to these realities. The social and political context of collectives and groups organizes resistance and openness to a discourse that allows these dimensions of identity to be discussed. This paper will elaborate through clinical examples of how these issues may present in therapy.
Radhika Santhanam-Martin - Othering Spaces: Uses of Alterity in Psychotherapy Training and Practice (ASI 2014)
Othering occurs in everyday human encounters and may be playful or violent, normative or transgressive. In ordinary social contexts, othering may be “invisible” yet have profound effects for identity, health and well-being. The deliberate use of othering is a feature of many forms of psychotherapy, in which people are made to feel like strangers to themselves, social marking and exclusion are made visible, and the initial alienation of the clinical encounter gives way over time to a deepening mutuality. This paper explores the Othering process using a therapeutic-philosophical lens. Building on the recognition that positive or inclusionary and negative or exclusionary practices of Othering regularly occur in therapy and training contexts, we will address the juxtaposition of the inevitability and persistence of strangeness with our need to be related to the familiar. To illustrate these issues, we use Donna Orange’s framework contrasting the hermeneutics of suspicion and hermeneutics of faith. Vignettes drawn from clinical and training settings will demonstrate how Othering processes organize and develop in a network of conversations and how they get enacted and embodied. We argue for the need to hold both these hermeneutic positions (doubt and trust), in order to ethically respond to and respect the face of the Other.