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Psychological anthropology and its modes of engagement

Referencing a much-discussed essay in The Nation about the chronic underemployment of PhDs and the shrinking segment of the academic job-pool that represents tenure-track positions,  Daniel Lende recently argued that one important solution is to consider ways in which PhDs from the social sciences can engage in intellectually rewarding work that is not necessarily in the academy.

And just to remind us that such modes of engagement are not limited to corporate ethnography, the FPR Blog has an excellent write-up of the final panel from the recent Society for Psychological Anthropology conference.  The topic for the conference was “Subjects and Their Milieux in Late Modernity: The Relevance of Psychological Anthropology to Contemporary Problems and Issues” and this panel addressed these issues head-on:

The final panel, which was organized by Douglas Hollan (UCLA) and Rebecca Lester (Washington University), focused on the challenges and prospects of “engaged psychological anthropology,” from a fieldwork as well as an applied perspective. Both Doug and Rebecca have longstanding professional as well as personal interests in this area. In addition to being anthropologists, Doug is a psychoanalyst and Rebecca is a licensed clinical social worker.

In his opening remarks, Doug said the theme of the conference (as well as the final panel) reflected the growing interest of students and colleagues in anthropology’s relevance or contribution to addressing human problems in the contemporary societies in which many anthropologists live and work. In her opening remarks, Rebecca said she was struck by how “the theme of morality is all over this program,” and that this at least partly reflected attempts to “figure out where our place should be, how we should engage with the questions we ask, what we should or shouldn’t do.”

The panelists included medical and psychological anthropologist Byron Good (Harvard University), cultural psychiatrist Laurence Kirmayer (McGill University), medical and psychological anthropologist Jill Korbin (Case Western Reserve University), and psychological anthropologist Daniel Linger (UCSC, emeritus).

Head over to the FPR Blog to read the rest of the summary.  It raises a number of interesting issues concerning different modes and domains of engagement, as well as emerging debates within psychological and medical anthropology concerning morality, suffering and engagement.


One Response to Psychological anthropology and its modes of engagement

  1. Pingback: Ten Things that Anthropologists Can Do to Fight the West African Ebola Epidemic » Antropologia Masterra

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