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At the intersection of hope and trouble: rethinking mental health landscape
Yuxin Peng (University of Oxford)
Yuxin Peng (University of Oxford)
Professor Elisabeth Hsu (University of Oxford)
Friday 18 September, 13:00-14:30

Short abstract:

In response to the panel convened by Asker and Kiely at RGS 2019, this panel proposes another round for the two disciplines to share their perspectives on the hopeful and troubled aspects of mental health landscape, and to work out a holistic and nuanced understanding about mental health outcomes.

Long abstract:

A panel at the international conference of the Royal Geographical Society in August 2019 (convened by Chloe Asker and Ed Kiely, with Richard Gorman as discussant) made an intriguing discovery that the medical anthropologists and health geographers of mental health today are working in opposing directions: while some medical anthropologists are seeking for the potential environments that may be beneficial for mental well-being (Yuxin Peng's paper) from a discipline with decades of reflections on settings and resorts that are "not working" (Estroff 1985, Kleinman 1988, Luhrmann 2000, Jenkins 2010), some health geographers are shifting their emphasis from the "therapeutic landscapes" (Gesler 1992) to the landscapes that are "more-than-therapeutic" (Geoff DeVerteuil's paper), or even harmful (Hannah Sender), with a twist on the term "mental health" to "mental ill-health" (Cheryl McGeachan and Chris Philo). With careful reflections on the positionality of researchers (Eleanor Martin) and concerns about the critical issues of racism (Ciann L. Wilson), potential for an anthro-geo-collaboration gradually emerges. Thus, another panel at the RAI is proposed here to continue the discussion on this newly discovered intersection: how can anthropology and geography learn from each other's former studies about the troubled and hopeful aspects of mental health landscape? How can the crucial roles played by the non-human actors for mental well-being be furthermore discovered? Moreover, how can the two disciplines collaborate to work out a more holistic and nuanced understanding about mental health outcomes?