Genealogies and anthropologies of global mental health

Anne M. Lovell, Ursula M. Read, Claudia Lang

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Within the proliferation of studies identified with global mental health, anthropologists rarely take global mental health itself as their object of inquiry. The papers in this special issue were selected specifically to problematize global mental health. To contextualize them, this introduction critically weighs three possible genealogies through which the emergence of global health can be explored: (1) as a divergent thread in the qualitative turn of global health away from earlier international health and development; (2) as the product of networks and social movements; and (3) as a diagnostically- and metrics-driven psychiatric imperialism, reinforced by pharmaceutical markets. Each paper tackles a different component of the assemblage of global mental health: knowledge production and circulation, global mental health principles enacted in situ, and subaltern modalities of healing through which global mental health can be questioned. Pluralizing anthropology, the articles include research sites in meeting rooms, universities, research laboratories, clinics, healers and health screening camps, households, and the public spaces of everyday life, in India, Ghana, Brazil, Senegal, South Africa, Kosovo and Palestine, as well as in US and European institutions that constitute nodes in the global network through which scientific knowledge and certain models of mental health circulate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-547
Number of pages29
JournalCulture Medicine and Psychiatry
Issue number4
Early online date15 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Critique of psychiatry
  • Genealogies
  • Global South
  • Global mental health
  • Human rights
  • Social movements


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