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Exploration of identity: Language, Embodiment, Intersectionality & Justice

21. April – 23. April 2022 

43rd Annu­al Meet­ing of the Soci­ety for the Study of Psy­chi­a­try and Cul­ture (SSPC) at Mar­riott Prov­i­dence Down­town Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island

Call for Abstracts for 43rd Annu­al Meeting
April 21–23, 2022
Mar­riott Prov­i­dence Downtown
Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island
Abstract sub­mis­sion dead­line: Sep­tem­ber 24, 2021
Explo­ration of iden­ti­ty is cen­tral to those of us work­ing at the inter­face of men­tal health and cul­ture. Inter­sec­tion­al iden­ti­ties dri­ve in-group and out-group dynam­ics, espe­cial­ly in times of stress and uncer­tain­ty. Iden­ti­ty is shaped by the nar­ra­tives we tell about our­selves and is embod­ied through habi­tus, yet is flu­id and can be trans­formed. In recent years, in soci­eties shak­en and dis­rupt­ed by a pan­dem­ic and the inequities it exposed, move­ments for social jus­tice have emerged, such as Black Lives Mat­ter and Stop Asian Hate. These move­ments have pushed the pub­lic to reeval­u­ate how iden­ti­ties can lead to mar­gin­al­iza­tion or serve as cat­a­lysts for sol­i­dar­i­ty and pow­er. This has restruc­tured how we expe­ri­ence our­selves, our identit(ies), and our sense of belong­ing. In the com­mu­ni­ties where we work, as well as our clin­i­cal pop­u­la­tions, we see a ten­sion between a desire to find under­stand­ing and sup­port with­in one’s com­mu­ni­ty and find­ing sol­i­dar­i­ty across com­mu­ni­ties through shared expe­ri­ence of oppres­sion and strug­gle. In our 2022 con­fer­ence, we invite you to explore iden­ti­ty through far-rang­ing sub-themes like lan­guage, nar­ra­tive, embod­i­ment, jus­tice and inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty.  
Exam­ples of top­ics and domains relat­ed to the con­fer­ence theme include the following:
  1. Lan­guage, bi/multiculturalism, and bi/multilingualism: What are the process­es through which lan­guage con­structs iden­ti­ty? What are the con­nec­tions between lan­guages and nar­ra­tives? How does flu­en­cy in more than one lan­guage con­tribute to hybrid iden­ti­ties and how these iden­ti­ties are per­formed, chal­lenged, and pro­tect­ed? In what ways does lan­guage serve to unite as well as divide social groups? What are the prac­ti­cal impli­ca­tions of lan­guage flu­en­cy in nego­ti­at­ing men­tal health care, includ­ing in con­duct­ing psy­chother­a­py? To what extent is con­struct­ing heal­ing nar­ra­tives through lan­guage an essen­tial aspect of cul­ture-focused treatment?
  1. Nar­ra­tive, col­lec­tive sto­ry­telling & men­tal health:  No sin­gle nar­ra­tive ful­ly encom­pass­es the life of a per­son, a com­mu­ni­ty, or a cul­ture.  As we meet new patients, clients, or col­leagues, how can we lis­ten for alter­na­tive nar­ra­tives that have been over­shad­owed by a dom­i­nant cul­tur­al nar­ra­tive?   How can we lis­ten for unwit­nessed nar­ra­tives of resilience when hear­ing sto­ries of trau­ma, loss, or dehu­man­iza­tion?  How can we engage oth­ers in a man­ner that strength­ens their empow­er­ment to choose which nar­ra­tives should stand as mark­ers of their cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty? What is the role of col­lec­tive sto­ry­telling in build­ing com­mu­ni­ty iden­ti­ty and how do these nar­ra­tives shape the men­tal health of its mem­bers? How does col­lec­tive sto­ry­telling impact how peo­ple respond to life changes that incur loss, grief, anger, love, joy and/or cre­ate community?
  1. Iden­ti­ty and inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty: How do the var­i­ous inter­sec­tion­al aspects of a person’s or group’s iden­ti­ty cre­ate har­monies and con­flicts? What roles and sig­nif­i­cance do we assign to these aspects of iden­ti­ty in rela­tion to men­tal health and well­be­ing? How do we and our patients decide to pri­or­i­tize some aspects over others?
  1. Embod­i­ment: Human beings are lived bod­ies in the world, and iden­ti­ty is not just con­struct­ed but embod­ied. How are inter­gen­er­a­tional trau­ma and social inequities embod­ied and present in clin­i­cal con­text? What role does engag­ing emo­tions and the sens­es play in trans­for­ma­tion with­in ther­a­peu­tic encoun­ters across cul­tures?  What is the role of psy­che­del­ic and somat­ic psy­chother­a­pies in heal­ing embod­ied social phe­nom­e­na, for the indi­vid­ual and community? 
  1. Iden­ti­ty, inclu­sion, and advo­ca­cy: How can cul­tur­al psy­chi­a­try best com­bine atten­tion to indi­vid­ual iden­ti­ties, mean­ing tra­di­tions, struc­tur­al fac­tors, and advo­ca­cy in a seam­less heal­ing prac­tice that pri­or­i­tizes social jus­tice? How can we best part­ner with clients and col­leagues as allies and advo­cates? How can we employ our knowl­edge and skills to help pro­mote under­stand­ing and bridge divi­sive­ness to work togeth­er towards a more equi­table and inclu­sive soci­ety? How can we encour­age such col­lab­o­ra­tion in health train­ing settings?
  1. Cul­ture and mean­ing-mak­ing: How are health-relat­ed prac­tices and inter­pre­tive tra­di­tions linked to cul­tur­al nar­ra­tives? How do we account for dif­fer­ences in inter­pre­ta­tion in cross cul­tur­al clin­i­cal and research set­tings? To what extent are these con­struc­tions incor­po­rat­ed into glob­al men­tal health frame­works or exclud­ed from them? 
  1. Iden­ti­ty across gen­er­a­tions: How have our under­stand­ings of iden­ti­ty and the for­ma­tive role of nar­ra­tive shift­ed over time? How do var­i­ous forms of nar­ra­tive (oral, writ­ten texts, visu­al media) con­struct dif­fer­ent types of iden­ti­ties across gen­er­a­tions? How are iden­ti­ties both pre­served and trans­formed over time?
  1. Truth, dis­in­for­ma­tion, and polar­iza­tion: How can we rec­on­cile dis­parate notions of truth that exist both with­in a sin­gle cul­ture and across mul­ti­ple ones? How is truth con­struct­ed out of nar­ra­tive? What is the role of pow­er and social posi­tion­al­i­ty in this process of con­struc­tion and trans­mis­sion? How can unit­ing truths and under­stand­ings be cre­at­ed in a world increas­ing­ly dri­ven by polarization?
  1. Culture/s of bio­med­i­cine and psy­chi­a­try: How can we best reveal the hid­den assump­tions, norms, and forms of exclu­sion that draw on lan­guage and iden­ti­ty in the cul­tures of bio­med­i­cine and psy­chi­a­try? How do these cul­tur­al prac­tices reflect and rein­force pow­er struc­tures, and how can we change them to be more inclu­sive? Whether adapt­ing to telehealth/digital health ser­vices, or explor­ing new labels such as “lan­guish­ing,” how have the dis­ci­pli­nary prac­tices of bio­med­i­cine and psy­chi­a­try evolved over time to reflect cur­ren­cies in broad­er cultures?
  1. Culture/s of vir­tu­al worlds: How has con­tact with vir­tu­al worlds led us to rede­fine many aspects of our lives: by revis­it­ing our iden­ti­ties, the ways we con­nect with oth­ers, how we pro­vide and receive care and ser­vices, what it means to be well, and/or how we inter­pret all these chal­lenges and changes?
  1. COVID-19: How are the ongo­ing impacts of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic rene­go­ti­at­ed through evolv­ing nar­ra­tives, chang­ing iden­ti­ties, and new lan­guages of experience? 
  1. Migra­tion, accul­tur­a­tion, and iden­ti­ty: Among migrants, through which process­es does accul­tur­a­tion influ­ence diverse aspects of iden­ti­ty in dis­tinct ways? How are these process­es con­nect­ed to men­tal and phys­i­cal health? In what ways are they trans­mit­ted and chal­lenged across generations?
Con­fer­ence Learn­ing Objectives
After attend­ing this meet­ing, par­tic­i­pants will be able to:
  1. Pro­vide 3 exam­ples of the way iden­ti­ty impacts men­tal health expe­ri­ences and/or care provision.
  1. Describe 3 ways that their own iden­ti­ty and posi­tion­al­i­ty impact their research and/or care provision. 
  1. Apply lessons learned to pro­vide clin­i­cal care informed by deep­er atten­tion to iden­ti­ty, lan­guage, and meaning-making.
Abstract Sub­mis­sion Categories
Abstracts can be sub­mit­ted for Work­shops, Sym­posia, Indi­vid­ual Papers or Posters, Works in Progress, and Trainee Fel­low­ship Papers. Work­shops that allow for par­tic­i­pants to gain skills in issues relat­ed to the con­fer­ence theme or cul­tur­al psy­chi­a­try and/or glob­al men­tal health writ large are strong­ly encour­aged and will be giv­en pri­or­i­ty. Sub­mis­sions based on qual­i­ta­tive, quan­ti­ta­tive, or mixed-meth­ods pri­ma­ry data and clin­i­cal encoun­ters will be giv­en pref­er­ence over posi­tion pieces. Par­tic­i­pants are encour­aged to sub­mit abstracts ear­ly. SSPC will pro­vide tech­ni­cal assis­tance for abstract sub­mis­sions up to 48 hours before the deadline.
1. Work­shop – Work­shops are approx­i­mate­ly 1.5 hours long. They should have one orga­niz­er and up to four co-facil­i­ta­tors. Work­shops are dif­fer­ent from sym­posia in that they are more inter­ac­tive and are required to have inter­ac­tive activ­i­ties for par­tic­i­pants for at least half of the work­shop time. In addi­tion to an abstract, work­shop sub­mis­sions must include a time­line of activ­i­ties. Work­shop themes should address spe­cif­ic skills, debates, or con­cepts, either relat­ed to the con­fer­ence theme or broad­ly applic­a­ble to cul­tur­al psy­chi­a­try and/or glob­al men­tal health. Exam­ples include how to work with youth to devel­op engage­ment strate­gies that encour­age diverse youth with first-episode psy­chosis to par­tic­i­pate in care or how to col­lab­o­rate with LMIC part­ners in GMH research.

2. Sym­po­sium – Sym­posia are approx­i­mate­ly 1.5 hours long. We rec­om­mend three orig­i­nal papers be includ­ed, with a rec­om­mend­ed pre­sen­ta­tion time of 20 min­utes each. Orga­niz­ers may opt to include four short­er pre­sen­ta­tions if pre­ferred. The orga­niz­er or mod­er­a­tor may pro­vide intro­duc­to­ry remarks on the top­ic. A dis­cus­sant may be includ­ed if desired. Be sure to allot a min­i­mum of 25 min­utes for open dis­cus­sion (per CME guidelines).

3. Indi­vid­ual Papers or Posters – Abstracts may be sub­mit­ted by indi­vid­u­als indi­cat­ing pref­er­ence for paper or poster pre­sen­ta­tions. Indi­vid­ual papers will be grouped into Paper Ses­sions by the con­fer­ence organizers.

4. Work in Progress – This cat­e­go­ry allows indi­vid­u­als or teams the oppor­tu­ni­ty to receive feed­back dur­ing the ear­ly stages of devel­op­ing a project, cur­ricu­lum, ther­a­py approach, grant appli­ca­tion, clin­i­cal ser­vice, etc. Abstracts can present pre­lim­i­nary con­cepts or find­ings and should include spe­cif­ic top­ics or ques­tions for dis­cus­sion. Work in Progress ses­sions will be 1.5 hours long and include 3 brief pre­sen­ta­tions (approx­i­mate­ly 10 min­utes), with sub­stan­tial time ded­i­cat­ed to dis­cus­sion for each presentation.

5. Trainee Fel­low­ship Pre­sen­ta­tions – Social sci­ence (mas­ters or PhD stu­dents) or med­ical (med­ical stu­dent or res­i­dent) trainees may sub­mit papers for con­sid­er­a­tion for a fel­low­ship pre­sen­ta­tion. Up to two fel­low­ships are giv­en each year. SSPC Fel­lows have reg­is­tra­tion costs waived and receive a $500 hon­o­rar­i­um to off­set trav­el costs. We encour­age trainees to sub­mit abstracts for the gen­er­al abstract sub­mis­sion dead­line even if they plan to sub­mit a paper for con­sid­er­a­tion for a fel­low­ship. That way their sub­mis­sions can be con­sid­ered for inclu­sion in the con­fer­ence if they are not award­ed a fellowship.

 The dead­line for all sub­mis­sion types is Sep­tem­ber 24, 2021, except for Trainee Fel­low­ship sub­mis­sions, which have a dead­line of Novem­ber 1, 2021. Click here for online sub­mis­sion form. All sub­mis­sions under­go a mul­ti­ple-review­er selec­tion and scor­ing process. Noti­fi­ca­tion of accep­tance or rejec­tion will be sent by ear­ly 2022. After noti­fi­ca­tion of accep­tance, all pre­sen­ters (includ­ing work­shop co-facil­i­ta­tors and dis­cus­sants) will be required to pay the con­fer­ence reg­is­tra­tion fee by Feb­ru­ary 1st for their sub­mis­sion to be includ­ed in the annu­al meet­ing program. 
For addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion, please vis­it the Annu­al Meet­ing page at  

If you have any ques­tions, please contact

Anna Fiskin, Co-Chair of the Pro­gram Com­mit­tee, at