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Social and epistemological history of psychiatric epidemiology:A case study in Senegal (SEHPE)

Agence Nationale de Recherche contract (2013-2016) | Cermes3; Columbia University
Coordinator: Anne Lovell, Cermes3

SEHPE aims to develop foundations for a social and epistemological history of psychiatric epidemiology.This discipline has practically never been studied as a historical or anthropological object because it has only lately been consolidated with respect to general epidemiology; because of the problematic nature of its object (mental health/mental illness), long resistant to objectification and standardization for lack of biomarkers; and because of highly variable social uses.We shall posit the hypothesis of a differentiated history constituted through two knowledge and action systems:international health and development (1960 to the mid-1980s), and the globalization of health (mid-1980s to the present).During the first period, the priority given to epidemics, mortality, and the consequences of tropical diseases marginalized mental health.During the second period, developmentalist health yielded to the prioritization of research and treatment on drugs, pharmaceutical marketing, neoliberal models, and the reconfiguration of institutional actors.These changes have reinforced studies in psychiatric epidemiology, itself strenghtened by the internationalization of diagnosis systems.These hypotheses will be explored in two parts:1) an anthropological-historical case study (Senegal, 1960-2012) having as a goal to examine the development, social uses, and characteristics of psychiatric epidemiology in Senegal; and 2) the promotion of an international interdisciplinary network of researchers working on the history of psychiatric epidemiology.

Cermes3 participants: Nicolas Henckes, Philippe Le Moigne, and Steeves Demazeux

Outside member: Gerald M. Oppenheimer (Columbia University)