Conferences: Cultural and Biological Contexts of Psychiatric Disorder and Cultural Memory

Two great conferences coming up early next year.

The first conference is Cultural and Biological Contexts of Psychiatric Disorder: Implications for Diagnosis and Treatment at UCLA, January 22-24, 2010.

Main Part of the abstract:

Our concept of mental illness in the West is largely shaped by the DSM diagnostic model. The DSM categorization of psychiatric disorders has been useful in driving research, and psychiatric neuroscience has made enormous strides in identifying some of the brain-based factors that contribute to mental disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder, as well as suggesting possible drug therapies.

However, both neuroscientists and anthropologists have raised questions about the validity and utility of these categories. Neuroscientists are concerned that the categories obfuscate the key brain-behavior linkages underlying pathological processes. Anthropologists on the other hand argue that the categories are largely social constructions and that the current neurobiological zeitgeist minimally attends to social and cultural processes of mental illness.

Much still remains unknown, particularly how the social and cultural worlds interact with neurobiological processes to produce mental symptoms that we recognize as depression or psychosis in everyday life and what this interaction implies for diagnosis and treatment. The aim of this conference is to improve the quality of psychiatric diagnosis and treatment by giving specific attention to biological and cultural contexts and their interactions.

There is a long list of speakers, from Simon Baron-Cohen to Moshe Szyf, with Byron Good, Eric Kandel, Emily Martin and other notables in the middle. You can already see the schedule here.

The general public can register to attend, and there is also a call for posters, with submissions due October 2, 2009.

The second conference is Transcultural Memory at the University of London, February 5-6, 2010.

Part of the abstract:

The concept of cultural memory has overcome this binary opposition between the individual and the collective, attending to their reciprocal relationship and the cultural grounds on which their mediation takes place (Assman). How, though, does memory work when events are remembered across and between cultures? In an age of globalization, is it still possible to speak of local and national memory, or do the local and national always exist in implicit and explicit dialogue with the transnational?

Main Speakers:
Astrid Erll (University of Wuppertal)
Andrew Hoskins (University of Warwick)
Dirk Moses (University of Sydney)
Michael Rothberg (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Abstracts of no more than 500 words to transculturalmemory at gmail dot com by July 21st, 2009.

Main website for Cultural and Biological Contexts of Psychiatric Disorder.

Main website for Transcultural Memory.

3 thoughts on “Conferences: Cultural and Biological Contexts of Psychiatric Disorder and Cultural Memory

  1. I wish I could be a warming a seat at this conference!!!
    Simon Baron-Cohen has some great books and I have seen Eric Kandel speak before – he’s a very good speaker!

    I wasn’t aware of the work of Dirk Moses, but seeming as he is in the same town, I just googled him and he is a Historian specialising on the Holocaust if I’m not mistaken — could be a fascinating paper…

    Actually, i’ve just started googling the other people on the list for the Cultural and Biological Contexts for Psychiatric Disorders Conference. There is some really interesting work going on out there!

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