Carolina Talavera

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Berkeley, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9848

Approve Date

April 30, 2019

Project Title

Talavera, Carolina (California, Berkeley, U. of) "Austerity's Ailments: Mental Health, Precarity and Post-Humanitarianism"

Building on anthropological studies of humanitarianism, my preliminary research in the UK suggests that experimental alliances have emerged which have extended critiques of humanitarianism and cut across the professional hierarchies, institutional boundaries and subject positions that they have investigated. This project proposes to study the alternative models of mental distress that have emerged in the aftermath of a decade of welfare retrenchment in the United Kingdom. More specifically, it examines how the effects of endemic precarity have become the foundations for alternative frames through which to understand the relationship between mental health and material insecurity. While previous studies have examined how mental health and metrics have the potential to obscure the relations of power and authority in which they are embedded, this project shifts focus by ethnographically examining the practices and tools by which alternative metrics and therapeutic languages emerge to challenge broader structures of power. Through altering the terms and frames by which we understand mental health, social actors are transforming the political potential of therapeutic language in such a way as to identify the contingent and open-ended fashion that structures of power become embodied and unendurable and to critique the perceived institutional failures of state and humanitarian interventions.