Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationHarvard U.
Grant numberGr. 9552
Approve DateOctober 11, 2017
Project TitleReinhart, Steven E., Harvard U., Cambridge, MA - To aid research on 'Vernacular Practices of Care: Mental Health and Race in 'The Great American City',' supervised by Dr. Jean Comaroff
This dissertation project is concerned with the relationship between race, psychiatry, and the American city, both historically and in the specific context of an ongoing mental healthcare crisis on Chicago’s South Side. I explore how from its inception in the early nineteenth century, American psychiatry has been entwined with race, emerging as a discourse through which racial hierarchies have been constructed, justified, and enforced. My research analyzes the ways in which race and psychiatry remain co-constitutive of one another today and the implications of this entanglement for everyday experiences of care in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods. As shootings and emergency-room visits for psychiatric issues have risen, and while more than 35% of inmates at Cook County Jail are marked as seriously mentally ill upon intake, the city and state have closed half of mental health clinics in the South Side’s hypersegregated neighborhoods. I investigate how, in a context of institutional racism, poverty, and mass incarceration, residents of these neighborhoods negotiate the care of mental health in the face of both suspicion of institutional mental healthcare and lack of access to it.