Laurence Kirmayer

Laurence Kirmayer

Laurence J. Kirmayer, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS, FRSC is James McGill Professor and Director, Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Transcultural Psychiatry and directs the Culture & Mental Health Research Unit at the Institute of Community and Family Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital, in Montreal, where he conducts research on culturally responsive mental health services, the mental health of Indigenous peoples, psychiatric anthropology, and the philosophy of psychiatry. His publications include the co-edited volumes, Cultural Consultation: Encountering the Other in Mental Health Care (Springer, 2013); Re-Visioning Psychiatry: Cultural Phenomenology, Critical Neuroscience, and Global Mental Health (Cambridge, 2015) and Culture, Mind and Brain: Emerging Concepts, Methods, and Applications (Cambridge, 2020). He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada.

James McGill Professor and Director
Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry
Department of Psychiatry
McGill University




foto kirmayer

Title of keynote:

Decolonizing Cultural Psychiatry: Thinking Through the Politics and Practice of Identity and Alterity

The constructs of race, ethnicity, and culture were part of the conceptual framework of colonialism and psychiatry was part of its technology, both as a vehicle for delivering medical care and as an institution of social control. Changes in the geopolitical landscape have led some to herald a postcolonial era but structures of domination persist and are woven into our everyday practices and the dynamics of identity and alterity in health care. If cultural psychiatry hopes to advance health equity, it needs to come to grips with the enduring legacy of colonialism as well as its new incarnations. This presentation will explore some of the current forms of domination, oppression, and exclusion in psychiatry. This will include forms of epistemic injustice, racialized identities, and ethnoracial bias, as well as the lack of attention to structural adversity, diversity, and the lifeworld. Just as technologies inadvertently reproduce and solidify social categories, so too do research and clinical practices in psychiatry. Cultural psychiatry then needs not only openness and responsiveness to the lived experience of people with diverse backgrounds and positions in society but critical perspectives on the social and psychiatric construction of identity, difference, and disorder.