Course description

Global Mental Health is a growing and important field. Anthropology has a long history of contributing to debates in cross-cultural psychiatry and psychotherapy, as well as to the perennial questions of “nature versus nurture” in defining “normal” versus “pathological” ways of being human. We examine the efficacy of traditional and community-based mental health practices in a non-Western indigenous context as well as the challenges to accessible care posed by inequality and poverty, as well as the stigmas surrounding mental illness in varied cultural contexts. In addition to exploring traditional healing traditions, we will study the efficacy of new community-based forms of biomedical care, as they relate to both debates on changing health care practices and aspirational needs (e.g., bio-medicalization vs. alternative “traditional” medicine; the need for better healthcare delivery systems, etc.) and ideas of the person, wellbeing, and the ethical life that exist within Nilgiris societies.

Taught in Kotagiri, India.


Previous course in a social science, or approval of instructor.

Summer 2024: Off campus

Andrew Willford
Andrew Willford
Professor of Anthropology