DRF News

CFP: Disability in World Film Contexts (edited volume)

The edited volume titled ‘Disability in World Film Contexts’ has received initial interest from Yoram Allon of renowned film publisher Wallflower Press (now part of Columbia UP).

Contributions are invited in the form of chapters that focus on an individual film or films from a specific national, regional or linguistic context. Such contributions should be of one of two types: 1) essays in the film studies or humanities traditions that give equal weight to the formal properties of cinema and the theme of disability understood in a broadly social context, or 2) anthropological, sociological or geographical approaches to disability as portrayed on film giving more weight to extra-filmic context.

Titles and 200-250-word abstracts should be submitted by 1 September 2014 by email to Benjamin Fraser: fraserb2010@gmail.com (Benjamin Fraser is Professor and Chair of Foreign Languages and Literatures at East Carolina University, author of Disability Studies and Spanish Culture [Liverpool UP, 2013] and editor/translator of Deaf History and Culture in Spain [Gallaudet UP, 2009]).

If selected for the volume, complete chapters of 7,000-10,000 words including notes and references will be due 1 July 2015. Send all correspondence to fraserb2010@gmail.com.

More Info: http://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/56966

Children, Familes and Young People, Critical Theory, Disability Studies and..., Events and Conferences, Inclusion, Majority/Minority Worlds, Policy and Legislation

Book Launch: Disabled Children’s Childhood Studies: Critical Approaches in a Global Context

The Birkbeck Centre for Medical Humanities invites you to a book launch with wine reception for Disabled Children’s Childhood Studies: Critical Approaches in a Global Context edited by Tillie Curran and Katherine Runswick-Cole.

6pm-8pm, Friday 31st January

Peltz Gallery, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square, Birkbeck, University of London, WC1H 0PD

Free and open to all, but registration required. Please email Harriet Cooper to register (h.cooper@bbk.ac.uk). Book Launch on Fri 31 Jan_’Disabled Children’s Childhood Studies’



Call for papers: Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South?

Call for Papers

 Disability and the Global South:

An International Journal


 Globalising Mental Health or Pathologising the Global South?

Mapping the Ethics, Theory and Practice of Global Mental Health

 Guest Editors: China Mills and Suman Fernando

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Movement for Global Mental Health, are calling to ‘scale up’ psychiatric treatments, often specifically access to psychiatric drugs, globally, and particularly within the global South. Amid these calls, others can be heard, from those who have received psychiatric treatments in the global North and South, and from some critical and transcultural psychiatrists, to abolish psychiatric diagnostic systems and to acknowledge the harm caused by some medications. Furthermore, voices have also been raised advocating the need to address social suffering, personal distress and community trauma in the global South in a context of poverty, political violence and natural disasters; and calling for people given psychiatric diagnoses to have their human rights protected by disability legislation.

The Movement for Global Mental Health frames distress as an illness like any other, calling for global equality in access to psychiatric medication. However there is a growing body of research from the global North that documents the harmful effects of long-term use of psychiatric medication and questions the usefulness of psychiatric models (see Angell, 2011; and Whitaker, 2010). This raises concerns; about the ‘evidence base’ of Global Mental Health; about increasing access to psychiatric drugs globally; about the promotion of psychiatric diagnoses such as ‘depression’ as an illness; and changes the terms of debate around equality between the global South and North. What are the ethics of ‘scaling up’ treatments within the global South whose efficacy are still hotly debated within the global North?

There are other concerns about Global Mental Health; that it exports Western ways of being a person and concepts of distress that are alien to many cultures, and imposed from the ‘top down’, potentially repeating colonial and imperial relations (Summerfield, 2008), and that psychiatry discredits and replaces alternative forms of healing that are local, religious or indigenous (Watters, 2010). Alongside this, many users and survivors of the psychiatric system argue for the right to access non-medical and non-Western healing spaces, and to frame their experience as distress and not to depoliticise it as ‘illness’ (PANUSP, 2012). Yet for the pharmaceutical industry – there is a huge financial incentive in both expanding the boundaries of what counts as illness, and expanding across geographical borders into the often ‘untapped’ markets of the global South. This marks a process of psychiatrization, where increasing numbers of people across the globe come to be seen, and to see themselves, as ‘mentally ill’ (Rose, 2006).

This is the context in which this special issue is situated. We would like to invite contributions that are inter-disciplinary and that ground rich conceptual work in ‘on the ground’ practice. We really welcome papers that try to grapple with the complexity and the messiness of debates around Global Mental Health. We hope to explore a range of issues and address some difficult questions, including (but not exclusively);

  •  Issues over access to healthcare and the right to treatment in the global South, and how these debates may be different for mental distress compared to physical illness and disability
  • Critical analysis of the evidence base of Global Mental Health and the ‘treatment gap’ in mental health care between the global South and North
  • Global mental health as a disabling practice
  • Examples of mental health activism and lobbying within the global South as well as resistance
  • Dilemmas and accounts of ‘doing’ mental health work in the global South, notably in contexts of poverty
  • The globalisation of psychiatry; accounts of how psychiatry travels, and of whether counter-approaches to mental health (alternative or indigenous frameworks) may travel too
  • Accounts of alternative ways of understanding health, distress and healing – counter-epistemologies and plural approaches from the global South and North.
  • Issues around colonialism, imperialism and psychiatry, and of possibilities for decolonising psychiatric practises
  • The role of the pharmaceutical industry and its connections with psychiatry – the global production, distribution and marketing of drugs – how drugs travel globally.
  • An exploration of the ethical dimensions of Global Mental Health, and who has the power to set the Global Mental Health agenda.
  • Should wellbeing and distress be addressed by health policy and medical funding, or be understood outside of a medical framework?
  • What are Global Mental Health interventions claiming to ‘treat’?
  • Is there a role for psychiatry within Global Mental Health?
  • Critical approaches to the Movement for Global Mental Health; can and should mental health be global?

We particularly welcome contributions from those who have lived experience of a psychiatric diagnosis, or of distress, and those who work in the global South, or in contents of poverty, on mental health issues. Short reports and stories, are equally encouraged alongside longer theoretical papers. Papers should be no more than 8000 words, with an abstract of 150-200 words.

Those wishing to submit an article or express an interest in contributing, please email China Mills china.t.mills@gmail.com. Manuscripts will be sent anonymously for peer review, and comments and recommendations relayed to authors through the editors. Instructions on formatting for the journal can be found here: http://dgsjournal.org/information-for-authors/

All contributions should be submitted no later than: 21st July 2013

Children, Familes and Young People, Disability Studies and..., Events and Conferences

Reminder of the next DRF themed seminar: Youth and Disability, Wednesday 9th Jan, 12-2

A reminder that the next DRF seminar will be on Wednesday 9th January 2013 12pm-2pm in Arundel 10111.The theme of this seminar is ‘Youth and Disability’.

Slot 1: Jenny Slater (Department of Education, Childhood and Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University, UK): “You’re not, I mean… I know you’re not, but I have to ask, you’re not… sexually active, are you?” Youth, disability, sexuality.


The quote I use to frame this paper comes out of my PhD research with young disabled people. It captures the troubled and troubling response that Molly, a young disabled woman, received from a doctor when requesting the contraceptive pill on sporting grounds. Furthermore, it illustrates the dangerous tying of disability to a discourse of asexuality; a discourse which works to sustain the positioning of disabled people’s bodies as a) childlike (Hall, 2011), b) asexual (Garland-Thomson, 2002; Liddiard, 2012), and c) the property of others, to be subject to intervention (Barton, 1993; McCarthy, 1998). For young disabled people, particularly young women, this is dangerous. In this paper I share more stories from my fieldwork in order to work through messy discourses of youth, disability and sexuality.  I use these stories to question Disability Studies and, to a lesser extent, popular media normalisation of issues concerning disability, disabled youth, gender and sexuality, stressing the importance of transdisciplinary conversation.

Slot 2: Ezekiel Isanda Oweya: (Centre for Rehabilitation Studies, University of Cape Town, South Africa): Experiences of African disabled youth living in rural Rift Valley to find and sustain livelihoods


Venue: The seminar will be held in the Arundel Building, 122 Charles Street, City Campus, Sheffield Hallam University, S1 1WB.  For a map of City Campus click here.

If you, or anybody you know, would like to present at a DRF seminar please do get in touch.  Alternatively, let us know if there is an issue/article/book you’d like to facilitate a round table discussion on.

Even if you do not intend to present, feel free to come along, listen and share your thoughts.   For lunchtime slots, please feel free to bring your own food and drink.

We aim to be accessible and have produced some guidelines of which we would like presenters to be mindful – these can be accessed here: Accessible Presenting

To offer to present, facilitate a discussion or for more detailed access information please contact: Rebecca Mallett: r.mallett@shu.ac.uk or 0114 225 4669 or Jenny Slater: j.slater@shu.ac.uk or 0114 225 6691.

DRF News

CFP: Society for Disability Studies – 26th Annual Conference (June 2013, USA)

Event: Society for Disability Studies – 26th annual meeting
Date: Wednesday, June 19th – Saturday, June 22nd, 2013
Place: Double-by-Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida, USA
Deadline for submissions: 21st November 2012 at http://www.disstudies.org

(Re)creating Our Lived Realities

In honor of its 26th annual meeting convening in Orlando, Florida – the land of make-believe, the home of Disney World and Universal Studios – the program committee of the Society for Disability Studies would like to encourage you to think about the ways in which we create and re-create our lived realities. We would like you to think not only about disabled people as complexly embodied historical actors, but also about the many social, economic, physiological, and political forces that shape, and often constrain, our lived realities. As people situated at the intersection of local and global histories, systems, and structures, we are constantly shaping and molding our social, cultural, and built environment(s). And they in turn affect us in innumerable ways. Nothing we do or say, or have done, can be divorced from its social and historical context, nor can it be isolated from the many human relations through which it emerges. While all proposals that explore these themes are welcome, the program committee especially seeks to solicit work that explores the interesting interactions among larger systems or structures, such as global capitalism, neoliberalism, militarism, and our immediate corporeal experiences – pleasure, pain, sex, illness, debility, a ride at Disney World or a walk through Epcot Center.

We offer the following broad questions to foster interdisciplinary perspectives and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration:

  • What are the many ways in which disabled people have conceptualized and enacted changes to the built environment and to the many things with which we interact on a daily basis? What barriers do people who experience disability face? How have these things changed over time?
  • What happens when local understandings, strategies, and ways of being meet up with more globalizing ones?
  • What new possibilities for change do such intersections produce, and, alternatively, where do we find disconnects that thwart cooperation?
  • How have various technologies–and access to them–shaped the formation of disabled identities and cultures, as well as interpersonal and group relationships?
  • In what ways are the realities we create bounded or shaped by geographic location, institutional formation, identity politics, and other factors?
  • What do collisions between the local and the global reveal about our experiences? What do they obscure?
  • How have disability politics and activism shaped not only the built environment, but human relations as well?
  • How does enduring poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, and the persistence of the medical and charity model shape / limit access to the many realities we create in our lives? How do these factors also open possibilities? How have these factors enhanced disability rights?
  • How have the various disciplines within disability studies explored and analyzed the built environment? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches?
  • How have/might the various disciplines and fields within disability studies work across disciplinary boundaries to enhance the quality of our lives?
  • How have/might disability studies reach out to local and national organizations and institutions to influence families, religious communities, service providers, political institutions, employers, etc.?
  • How does a focus on Lived Realities influence research methods, theory, and the underpinnings of disability scholarship and practice?
  • How have prevailing (contemporary) paradigms (or narratives) succeeded or failed in capturing “our lived realities”? 

We welcome proposals in all areas of disability studies, especially those submissions premised on this year’s theme.

This year’s program committee is continuing the idea of specific “strands” that relate to the larger more general theme of the SDS conference. Each strand may have 3 or 4 related events (e.g. panels, workshops), organized to occur throughout the conference and in a way that will eliminate any overlap of sessions in an effort to facilitate a more sustained discussion of specific issues that have arisen as areas of interest within the organization.  Planned strands this year can be found here (scroll down).  If you would like your proposal to be considered as part of one of these thematic strands, mark this in your submission.

More information on session formats, terms of participation, delegate responsibilities for ensuring accessibility, audio/visual information, awards and submission agreement can be found here (scroll down).  

For further information contact the Program Committee of the SDS 2013 program committee at SDSprogram@disstudies.org

DRF News

CFP: Annual Pacific Rim Conference ‘Disability Studies as a Performative Act’ (April 2013; USA)

Event: Annual Pacific Rim Conference: www.pacrim.hawaii.edu
Date: 29th – 30th April 2013
Place: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Disability Studies as a Performative Act

Disability Studies and Culture can be approached from a plethora of angles. As Sandahl and Auslander write, “How do performance events contribute to disability “cultures,” disability identities, and communication between disabled and nondisabled people? What do these performances reveal about who is on the inside of disability culture and who is on the outside? What collaborative strategies have disabled and nondisabled artists used to bridge the gap between their experiences? Are these collaborations equal exchanges between mutually consenting partners, especially when the disabled artists include those with cognitive impairments or the institutionalized.”

The 2013 Disability Studies and Culture topic area will focus on the complexity of identities and how such identities are performed, represented and negotiated. Particular avenues to explore are disability identities in performance art, performing everyday acts, performing political acts and performing Disability Studies. Questions and topics to be submitted for consideration as presentations, posters, or papers might include any of topics in the preceding paragraph. Other topic ideas include:

  • What might it mean to call disability a performance? Who’s performing? Who are they performing for?
  • How have disability studies changed in the twenty-first century?
  • How has disability culture changed in the twenty-first century?
  • How has expansion of disability studies curriculum into traditional fields changed disability studies? traditional fields?
  • How might online classes have changed the way disability studies is presented (performed)?

We would also like to invite abstract submissions for performances related to Disability Studies and Culture.

We welcome proposals in any presentation format. Please see presentation formats on our Web page at: http://www.pacrim.hawaii.edu/submissions/presenters/formats/.

Please check the criteria for each format and ensure that you have the appropriate number of presenters for your chosen format. You may submit proposals online at: http://www.pacrim.hawaii.edu/submissions or send your proposals via email to prcall@hawaii.edu.

Download Standard Print | PDF Format | Doc Format |

Download Large Print | PDF Format | Doc Format |

For more information about this topic area, contact: Steve Brown, sebrown@hawaii.edu, 808-956-0996, Holly Manaseri, hmanser@hawaii.edu, 808-956-9218, Norma Jean Stodden, nstodden@hawaii.edu, 808-956-4454, or Megan Conway, mconway@hawaii.edu, 808-956-6166. For general information on the conference, please contact Charmaine Crockett at cccrocke@hawaii.edu, (808) 956-7539.

DRF News

CCDS Event: The Bhopal Disaster, Literature, and Charity Advertising (November 2012, UK)

Event: Centre for Culture & Disability Studies (CCDS) Research Seminar 

Date: Wednesday 7th November 2012: 2.15pm-3.45pm ~ Venue: Eden, 109, Liverpool Hope University, UK. 

Brief Description:

The Bhopal Disaster, Literature, and Charity Advertising ~ Dr. Clare Barker (University of Leeds, UK)

The 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy was the world’s worst industrial disaster. It has killed 25,000 people to date, injured many thousands more, and is still causing sickness and disabilities nearly 30 years later due to toxic chemicals in the city’s groundwater supply. Dr. Clare Barker considers representations of the disabled inhabitants of Bhopal in both charity advertising and literary works relating to the disaster, in particular Indra Sinha’s Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Animal’s People (2007). As a former advertising copywriter, Sinha was instrumental in setting up the Bhopal Medical Appeal in the UK and is still involved in its activities. Dr. Barker contends that there is a productive synergy between literature and advertising in the BMA’s campaigns: while disability charities frequently rely on tropes of helplessness and pity, often supported by sensational or sentimental images of disabled children, Dr. Barker argues that the BMA engages with fictional narrative techniques and consequently achieves more empowering representations in its publicity. As a complement to this, Animal’s People contributes to the BMA’s agenda by promoting awareness of Bhopal’s unresolved medical crises while also interrogating the politics of “western” medical aid interventions and problematizing the representational strategies of charity discourse. Dr. Barker considers literature’s role within health activism and points to ways in which literary texts such as Animal’s People might be used to inform the representations of disability and medical aid within charities’ campaign strategies.

Clare Barker is Lecturer in English at the University of Leeds. She is author of Postcolonial Fiction and Disability: Exceptional Children, Metaphor and Materiality (2012) and guest editor, with Stuart Murray, of a special issue of the Journal of Literary and Cultural Disability Studies, namely, Disabling Postcolonialism: Global Disability Cultures and Democratic Criticism (2010).

For further information from the organisers, please contact: Dr. David Bolt: boltd@hope.ac.uk

DRF News

Call for Abstracts: Disability and the Majority World: 2nd International Conference (Sept 2012, UK)

Date: 26th- 27th September 2012

Venue: Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), UK

Keynotes: Rod Michalko, Janet Price, Tanya Titchkosky and Maria Kett

FREE conference organised by Critical Disability Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University (CDS@MMU) supported by BWPI and Institute for Development Policy and Management (IDPM), University of Manchester

The 2nd international conference Disability and the Majority World will be held at Manchester Metropolitan University. The conference seeks to bring together researchers, disability activists, practitioners, organisations, and others from various fields, to discuss a range of key and emerging themes around disability in the global South. It provides a much needed inter-disciplinary, critical, supportive and open space to debate, question and challenge, while exploring alternatives in a safe and friendly environment.

Call for Abstracts is now open – Deadline: 22nd September 2012

Abstracts for paper presentations are now being accepted.  The conference welcomes contributions around (not exclusively) the following broad areas, from all disciplinary perspectives.  They particularly encourage contributions from activists, researchers and practitioners from the global South:

  • Poverty and disability
  • War and conflict
  • Health and rehabilitation
  • Migration
  • Development
  • Globalisation, neoliberalism and beyond
  • Post/neocolonial spaces
  • Researching disability across cultures

Those wishing to present a paper, please send an abstract (maximum 300 words) in an attached Word Document to S.Grech@mmu.ac.uk. Please ensure the abstract contains name, title of presentation, institution (if applicable) and contact email and please insert ‘abstract for conference’ in the subject line of your email. Paper presentations are 15 minutes.


The conference is FREE of charge, but all delegates need to register. This will help gauge attendance and make adequate preparations. Please register here

Cancellations: the organisers would appreciate if those registered but no longer able to attend to please inform us by email Shaun Grech: S.Grech@mmu.ac.uk


The conference is free, which means that lunch and refreshments will have to be purchased from the University or elsewhere. Please let the organisers know if you have any dietary requirements so we can make the refectory aware of delegate requirements.


While the organisers acknowledge the need, the fact that they are keeping the conference free, means that they are unable to provide bursaries (for travel, lodging or other expenses) to attend the conference.

DRF News

Getting Involved in the DRF…

The Disability Research Forum (DRF) will soon be entering its seventh year and is establishing itself as a significant international network of researchers (independent and those allied to particular education institutions or NGOs ) as well as anybody who has a committed interest in all things related to the study of disability and impairment. 

We thought we’d share with you some of the many ways to get involved, raise your profile and generally big up disability studies…

Our People Page

We have members from within the UK and beyond, including countries such as Canada, Kenya and Botswana.  As it is the diversity of its members which makes the DRF such a vibrant and interesting space, please consider adding your details to our People page.  If your details are already on there, please double-check they are up-to-date.  Any additions or changes can be sent to Rebecca Mallett (r.mallett@shu.ac.uk)

Recent additions include:

Nadia Ahmed: nadia.ahmed@qmul.ac.uk – PhD Research Student, School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London, UK. Nadia’s research focuses on practicable working environments for disabled academics in UK based universities. She is also the president of the Ability Society at Queen Mary University of London.

Nick Chown: nick@chown.fsbusiness.co.uk – PhD Student and Associate Lecturer, Faculty of Development and Society, Sheffield Hallam University, UK.  Nick’s doctoral research focused on language methods and language-games in autism.  His previous research interests have included barriers to learning for students with autism in further education, and autism awareness and understanding in the UK police service.  He is currently investigating the use of email as an autism-friendly interviewing tool.

Harriet Cooper: harriet.aj.cooper@googlemail.com – MPhil/PhD Researcher, Department of English and Humanities, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. Her MA dissertation, entitled ‘The Ideal of Self-sufficiency and the Physically Disabled Subject in Contemporary Anglo-American Culture’, drew on ideas from cultural theory, disability studies, gender studies and psychoanalysis. Her PhD research explores the rise of the notion of the ‘normal child’ in Anglo-American culture and its impact on cultural constructions of the physically impaired child.

Alice Mathers: a.mathers@sheffield.ac.uk – Research Associate, Department of Landscape, Sheffield University, UK. Alice’s work is driven by an interdisciplinary approach to people-environment interactions, which straddles the academic boundaries of landscape architecture, planning, sociology, disability studies, human geography and environmental psychology. Her research with disabled people seeks to challenge current professional, academic and societal constraints that inhibit the involvement of underrepresented communities. Click here for profile.

Our Publications Page

An important part of the DRF is keeping each other up to date with the latest research and scholarly activity surrounding the study of disability.  Please consider adding your recent (or forthcoming) publications to our Publications Page.  If your details are already on there, please double-check any ‘forthcoming’ entries and send the correct details upon publication.  Any updates or additions can be sent to Rebecca Mallett (r.mallett@shu.ac.uk)

DRF Seminar Series

Details of the next seminar are below.  We will be shortly announcing dates for 2012-13 so watch this space if you would like to present a paper in an upcoming seminar.  (Please note: There is currently a slot available for the seminar on 3rd May 2012 (Thurs) 2pm-4pm. If you could and would like to fill this slot please get in touch asap.)

Date/Time: 18th April 2012 (Weds) 1pm-3pm

Venue: Room 10111 in the Arundel Building, City Campus, Sheffield Hallam University (More information on the venue can be found here.)

Slot 11: Will Southwell-Wright (Department of Archaeology, University of Durham): Past Perspectives: What can Archaeology offer to Disability Studies?

Slot 12: Tom Campbell (School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds): Bio-politics, resistance and the social model of disability

Further details (including abstracts) are available here.

DRF News

Second Keynote’s Title and Abstract Announced for Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference (Chester, UK: June 2012)

If you need any further encouragement to attend the Theorising Normalcy and the Mundane: 3rd International Conference at the University of Chester (June 26th-27th 2012), here are details of our second keynote speaker: China Mills, who will be discussing…

Spoof: Faking Normal, Faking Disorder


“[T]he most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed” (Steve Biko, 1978: 92).

How do spoof, ‘fake’ psycho-pharmaceutical adverts work to queer the ‘real’ adverts, and the disorders they market the drugs for? How do they crip conceptions of normality and sanity?

These spoof ads point to a creeping psychiatrization of our everyday lives, a psychiatrization globalised through ‘mental health literacy’ campaigns and psycho-education in low-income countries of the global South. This paper will explore how this psychiatrization interlaces with colonial subject formation. For while pharmaceutical adverts and psychiatry interpellate, hail, ‘make up’, and elicit particular subjects – as pharmaceutical citizens, neurochemical selves; there is also a force at work in ‘making up’ these subjects, through the power of the gaze, that for Frantz Fanon; objectifies, seals, crushes and abrades. But how does medication broker subjectivity? How does it, as the ads claim, restore us to ourselves, make us whole again?

This paper will attend to the visual, to mechanisms of looking, to psychiatric fields of visibility. In India, many mental health Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), go to rural areas to ‘identify’ people with ‘mental illness’, making them visible through diagnostic systems developed in the global North, and medicating them. They say these people are ‘invisible people’. So how do medication and psychiatry make people visible? What ways of ‘seeing’ do they make possible? For Homi Bhabha (1994) invisibility does not signify lack; instead it works to disrupt identification and interpellation through refusing presence. Thus how might these ‘invisible people’, those who refuse to ‘reproduce hegemonic appearances’ (Scott, 1990), work to disrupt the gaze of psychiatry? Might invisibility; the doubling, dissembling image of being in two places at once (Bhabha, 1994), work as both a ‘symptom’ of oppression, and a means of subversion?

To read psychiatrization as a colonial discourse opens up possibilities to explore how the secret arts, the hidden transcripts, of resistance of the colonised might be read in people’s resistance to psychiatry – from the slyness of mimicking normality, to the mockery of ‘spoof’ drug adverts. How the ‘disembodied eyes’ of the subaltern that see but are not seen, might disrupt and subvert both the presumed ‘I’ of the unitary ‘whole’ subject, and the surveillant, penetrative ‘eye’ of psychiatry.

How medication might work to make people visible is more troubling if we read invisibility as camouflage and potential subversion. It suggests that medication might make people more vulnerable in their submission to sociality, in their domestication. But with what conceptual tools can we establish whether being invisible is an act of resistance through camouflage, a strategy solely for survival, or a mark of adaptation and assimilation? Perhaps certain forms of psychiatric ‘looking’ allow us not to ‘see’; enable us to encounter difference and yet defer it, domesticate it– to recuperate the hegemonic, the status quo, in the final look.

In this paper I will explore how spoof adverts may mimic ‘real’ ads in a similar way to how some people mimic normality, slyly; a ‘resemblance and menace’ that mocks the power of the ‘real’ and the ‘sane’, their very power to be a model (Bhabha, 1994:86). Will you be able to tell the difference between the ‘real’ and the ‘fakes’?


China Mills is in the final stages of writing up her PhD thesis, which employs a colonial discourse analysis of Global mental Health’s ‘scale-up’ of psychiatry, and the psychiatrization of India. She is funded by the Education and Social Research Institute, at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK. China has worked within, and been allied to, the UK and Indian psychiatric user/survivor movement for some years, and is a member of the editorial collective of Asylum magazine for democratic psychiatry (www.asylumonline.net).

For more information on the conference click here.