Angela Sofia Marques Castela Filipe

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

McGill U.

Grant number

Gr. 10058

Approve Date

October 2, 2020

Project Title

Marques Castela Filipe , Angela Sofia (McGill U.) "In Pursuit of Attention: Diagnosis, Values, and Social Encounters in an ADHD Clinic"

Much has already been said in the social scientific literature about the medicalization of childhood, the ethics of psychostimulant medications, and the circulation of psychiatric diagnoses such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Yet surprisingly little is known about how these diagnoses are defined and made in practice, particularly outside the Anglo-American world. Drawing on archival research, media analysis, and an ethnography of a pediatric unit in Portugal, my book explores how ADHD became an object of medical concern and investment and, at the same time, a “site” of social encounter with and moral reflection on different conceptions of attention––from neurocognitive function to an ethic of care. Through this exploration, I show how clinicians make sense of ADHD in their practice and how “attention” is defined, valued, and negotiated in their encounters with children and families. Combining this clinical ethnography with a global historical perspective, I also illuminate how ADHD became a repository for broader cultural anxieties in which global diagnostic psychiatry intersects personal experience and local contingency linked to the political economies and social histories of mental health in Southern Europe. The book provides the first in-depth, ethnographic account of ADHD in a global perspective while bridging, more broadly, medical, psychological, and moral anthropology along a new avenue of inquiry into (in)attention in medicine and beyond.