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Inequalities in (Mental) Healthcare: Critical Perspectives in Medical Anthropology

11. Novem­ber – 15. Novem­ber 2024 

Hybrid event in the frame­works of the World Anthro­po­log­i­cal Union Con­gress 2024

Inequal­i­ties in (Men­tal) Health­care: Crit­i­cal Per­spec­tives in Med­ical Anthropology
Pan­el at World Antrhopo­log­i­cal Union Con­gress 2024
Con­venors: Sharon Gabie (Nel­son Man­dela Uni­ver­si­ty, Johan­nes­burg­burg, South Africa), Hel­mar Kurz (Uni­ver­si­ty of Muen­ster, Germany)
When: 11th – 15th Novem­ber 2024
Cfp dead­line: 13 May 2024

Pan­el Abstract:
(Men­tal) health­care sys­tems world­wide meet var­i­ous chal­lenges, par­tic­u­lar­ly the insuf­fi­cien­cy of resources for patients of low­er eco­nom­ic class­es and rur­al areas. What is more, in many places ther­a­peu­tic set­tings remain “zones of aban­don­ment” (Biehl 2005), par­tic­u­lar­ly when affil­i­at­ed with offi­cial health­care sec­tors. How­ev­er, some phil­an­thropic, reli­gious-spir­i­tu­al, and pri­vate agen­cies pro­vide “good exam­ples” of (men­tal) health­care (Basu et al. 2017).
Chang­ing gov­ern­ments and con­test­ing poli­cies have impact­ed local, translo­cal, and glob­al (men­tal) health­care sup­plies, main­tain­ing incon­sis­ten­cies in (men­tal) health­care. Fur­ther, the recent COVID-19 pan­dem­ic has clear­ly illus­trat­ed that struc­tur­al vio­lence (Farmer 2005) and chronic­i­ty of cri­sis (Vigh 2008) still shape inequal­i­ties in access to health resources in both the Glob­al North and Glob­al South. New chal­lenges may be requests regard­ing the men­tal health­care pro­vi­sion for Indige­nous and migra­to­ry communities.
In South Africa, a recent case of neg­li­gence and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion of peo­ple with psy­chi­atric dis­or­ders is that of Life Esidi­meni. The tragedy wit­nessed 144 peo­ple die because of inap­pro­pri­ate care and the lack of equipped infra­struc­ture and staff to cater to the needs of peo­ple in men­tal health care facil­i­ties and many more suf­fer­ing trau­ma (Duro­jaye & Aga­ba 2018, Fer­l­i­to & Dhai 2018). South Africa is no excep­tion for the fact, that coun­tries across the globe neglect men­tal health care as an over­all aspect of health and well­be­ing. The results of a four-coun­try study, which includ­ed South Africa, found that there is a lack of data to con­vince pol­i­cy­mak­ers to pri­or­i­tize men­tal health, a lack of imple­men­ta­tion, and how to mobi­lize peo­ple to seek inter­ven­tion to the prob­lem at an ear­ly stage (Pil­lay 2019). In dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties, black com­mu­ni­ties in par­tic­u­lar, the stig­ma against men­tal health issues is com­pound­ed by cul­tur­al and social chal­lenges that pre­vent many peo­ple from seek­ing ear­ly inter­ven­tion (Gumede 2021).
Phil­an­thropic orga­ni­za­tions have always been essen­tial health resources, and not only for mar­gin­al­ized social groups (for the exam­ple of Brazil­ian Spiritism, see Kurz 2024). How­ev­er, they have been wide­ly ignored in pub­lic and aca­d­e­m­ic dis­course, and how polit­i­cal insti­tu­tions con­test, reg­u­late, or inte­grate relat­ed approach­es remains a research desider­a­tum that this pan­el wants to address around the fol­low­ing lead­ing ques­tions, focus­ing on men­tal health prac­tices but inte­grat­ing all health-relat­ed aspects of human well-being:
1) Strate­gies between actors. What are the con­tem­po­rary challenges/opportunities of diverse actors with­in the field of (men­tal) health in their par­tic­u­lar local­i­ties? In which spaces do they inter­vene? Where are they exclud­ed? What trends can be iden­ti­fied, e.g., in the emer­gence of new agen­cies in the field or pow­er dis­tri­b­u­tions among exist­ing actors?
2) Con­tent of action and inter­ven­tion in the field. What is cur­rent­ly at stake? What are per­spec­tives and prac­tices? How do diver­gent actors respond to (men­tal) health challenges?
3) Polit­i­cal reg­u­la­tion. How do state and offi­cial health­care insti­tu­tions relate to con­test­ing and com­ple­ment­ing approach­es? Do forms of coop­er­a­tion exist? Do obsta­cles exist? What are polit­i­cal strate­gies at the inter­sec­tion of polit­i­cal, eco­nom­ic, and social interests?

To sub­mit a paper/abstract, please fol­low these guide­lines:

The con­venors are avail­able for any doubt or ques­tion in advance and through­out the CfP process:
Sharon Gabie (Nel­son Man­dela Uni­ver­si­ty, Johan­nes­burg­burg, South Africa)
Hel­mar Kurz (Uni­ver­si­ty of Muen­ster, Ger­many)