Dr Pratt-Boyden’s Talk on Mental Health Activism and Epistemic Injustice

Dr. Keira Pratt-Boyden will be giving a seminar at the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research on Thursday 30th March at 4pm, in Cornwall NE room 2.

Title and abstract of the talk below:

Countering epistemic injustice: how mental health activists in London build indeterminate worlds

This paper examines the philosophies, politics and healing practices of a network of activists who identify as ‘survivors’, ‘evaders’ and/or ‘ex-users’ of formal mental healthcare through a critical phenomenological lens. Engagement with services have left activists with a profound sense of grievance: decrying the dominance of the biomedical model, invasive managerial systems, and the insensitivity of clinical encounters, many of which involve coercion. This is the context in which activists come together to forge their own modes of healing I call worldbuilding. Worldbuilding is the everyday relational and spatial practices and ways of being which are more about process than outcome, or ‘indeterminacy’. By building indeterminate worlds, activists work to bring about social and political forms and processes that change power in mental healthcare, disrupting what ‘counts’ as truth, remedy or expertise in healing. Drawing from 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I show how building indeterminate worlds allows activists to enact alternative social and political imaginaries. In the process, activists seek to re-frame their lives and relationships by making spaces to ‘go through madness’ together and come out the other side.