Friday Morning Seminar in Culture, Psychiatry and Global Mental Health

This seminar is open to the public.

The Friday Morning Seminar, as it is widely known, has been meeting every year since 1984, when it was launched as the foundational seminar for both a postdoctoral fellowship program in culture, psychiatry, and mental health as well as the predoctoral program in medical anthropology. Since that time, the seminar has brought together an interdisciplinary group of social scientists and clinicians, including faculty, fellows, students, and visiting scholars from across the University and the teaching hospitals, and universities across greater Boston.

The seminar features presentations of new research and writing by faculty, fellows, and students, and by invited guests. Its perspective is global and international, with a focus on comparative and cross-cultural studies. Some seminars have led to edited books (recently: Postcolonial Disorders; Subjectivity: Ethnographic Investigations; and Shattering Culture), and special issues for journals such as Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry: An International Journal of Cross-Cultural Research; or Ethos: Journal of The Society for Psychological Anthropology. Every year, we bring to Harvard the most influential and innovative scholars and practitioners, from the US and elsewhere in the world, in an effort to foster a fruitful intellectual exchange as well as stimulate new paths for research.

During the academic year, the seminar hosts several international scholars who work on sociopolitical and cultural aspects of contagion and public health. In addition, the seminar focuses on the politics of global health and global mental health care, with special attention to comparative studies of social inequalities and hierarchies in the context of the pandemic and the local and global aftermaths of COVID-19. Topics of specific interest in this context include cultural diversity, race, and racial identity; political violence; politics of public health; mental health implications of pandemics, and current debates concerning the role and relevance of psychiatric and biomedical knowledge, practice, diagnostic categories, treatment, and health care models for pandemic hotspots and low-resource settings.

The seminar meets 8–10 times or more per semester from 10:00 to 11:50 a.m. on Fridays. The seminar traditionally meets in Room 1550 William James Hall, and is cosponsored by the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the seminar adopted an online-only approach, which will in the future include both online meetings via Zoom as well as hybrid online/in-person sessions.

Related Links

See also: Open Seminars


Collaborating Co-Chair from MIT

Michael M.J. Fischer

Professor of Anthropology and Science, Technology, and Society (STS), Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Lecturer, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School.