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MC11 Changing Minds

Changing Minds

Coordination: William S. Sax, Sven Barnow

Abstract

Transcultural flows in the realm of mental health and wellbeing include the modern "sciences of the mind" such as psychology and psychiatry, practices of self-cultivation including yoga and meditation, and esoteric practices that remain largely unknown to the mainstream. Most of them have as their object the healing and/or the transformation of human minds and subjectivities. Although both religious and scientific methods make universal claims to truth, historical and social scientific research shows that each of them arises in a specific context, and has particular local effects. What happens when they are exported along transcultural paths into new contexts? Relying on the work of Hacking, Kirmayer, Mol and others, this Mini-Cluster proposes to investigate the way in which such techniques affect identities, ontologies, and subjectivities in a global setting. Sub-projects include "Gloom Goes Global," which focuses on the study of melancholy as a historical-anthropological phenomenon and scientific medical concept from a transcultural perspective; "Trauma in Transcultural Perspective," which examines what happens to local ideas and practices when psychological and psychiatric therapies are exported into contexts with which they are unfamiliar and incongruent; and "Asymmetrical Translations: Mind and Body (and Spirit) in European and Indian Medicine”, which looks, on the one hand, at the invention of "Ayurvedic Psychiatry" in India, and on the other hand at how Ayurveda is transformed in Europe into a mind-body-medicine.