DRF News

Details of Next DRF Seminar: 8th February 2012 (1pm-3pm)

DRF Seminar Series: Seminar #4

Date/Time: 8th February 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.)

  • China Mills (Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University): Globalising Disorder; Crossing Borders through Disorders

Abstract: In an increasingly globalised psycho-pharmacological world, access to psychiatric medication, ‘scaling-up’ of psychiatric services, and closing the ‘treatment gap’ between low and high income countries, are equated with social justice and equality. In this space, mental illness is framed as akin to physical illness; and the argument is made that just as AIDS medications should be available to those in low-income countries, so should psychiatric medications. The incitement of mental health into a discourse of global emergency and crisis suggests an abnormal deviation from a normal order, yet mental illness may also be read as a ‘normal’ reaction to that (dis)order – as a ‘healthy’ response to the ‘unhealthy’ globalisation of Neoliberalism. Yet making the claim that mental health problems, such as Depression, are a ‘normal’ response to inequitable market relations in the global South, may also be normative, as it glosses over a simultaneous globalisation; that of bio-psychiatric explanations of distress. Just as psychiatric diagnostic systems, such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) blur the borders of normality and abnormality, enabling increasing experiences to be conceptualised in psychiatric terms; they also enable psychiatric disorders to cross geographical borders, enabling the psychiatrisation of new populations, and new ‘emergent markets’ for the pharmaceutical industry. For example,in India, in response to a spate of farmer suicides that occurred due to neoliberal agricultural reforms, the Indian Government launched a study to find a genetic cause for suicide, and campaigners called for anti-depressants to be more widely available to farmers. But what does it mean to frame the distress caused by economic reforms as ‘mental illness’, and provide interventions that work at the level of individual brain chemistry and genes, and that are part of the same neoliberal rationale that led to distress in the first place? This paper will explore what the framing of mental illness as akin to physical illness and disability, makes possible within the field of Global Mental Health, with a specific focus on India. 

  • John Quinn (Department of Politics, University of Sheffield): New Labour and Disability Politics

Abstract: When the ‘New’ Labour government came into power in 1997, it was seen by many previously marginalised groups as an opportunity to have more say in the way the country was run. One of these was a ‘new social movement’ calling for disability rights – which arguably only came into existence in Britain during the mid-1970s and had continued developing during 18 years of Conservative rule. However there had been little unity between different strands of this movement, due not only to the wide range of disabilities represented, but also because of disputes over both ends and means. After a Labour government lasting 13 years this research aims to use a variety of methods to see whether it proved lucky or unlucky for disabled people in Britain, seeing to what extent lives have changed and how much of this is due to the way the government and social movement have impacted on and affected each other.

Next Seminar: 15th March 2012 (Thurs) 1.30pm-3.30pm

Slot 9: Sarah Thompson (Department of Education, Childhood and Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University): Title TBC

Slot 10: Tom Andrews (Department of Education, Childhood and Inclusion, Sheffield Hallam University): Exploring the impact of sexuality on the lifeworld of adolescents with autism