Postcolonial Psychiatry and Memory Work in a West African Clinic.
What does it mean to both tell and untell the history of a place? What ethical, methodological, and theoretical considerations must we attend to when searching for the past in the present? This talk explores the distinctive project in transcultural psychiatry undertaken at the Fann Psychiatric Clinic in Dakar, Senegal during the early post-Independence years, while at the same time paying close attention to the traces of this past that are still visible within (or visibly absent from) today’s Fann— in the everyday routines and practices of the clinic, in its material objects and infrastructure, and in the silences, narratives, and disagreements that circulate about that other time. Approaching these traces as nodes of and for elaborative imagination rather than indices of historical reality or fact, this talk shows memory work to be a moral and relational practice, both within Fann and beyond.
Katie Kilroy-Marac (PhD, Columbia University) is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto. She is the author of An Impossible Inheritance: Postcolonial Psychiatry and the Work of Memory in a West African Clinic (University of California Press, 2019), which was awarded the 2019 Labrecque-Lee Book Prize by the Canadian Anthropology Society/La Société canadienne d'anthropologie (CASCA). She is currently involved in two research projects. The first, tentatively titled “The Colonial Psychiatric Imagination in Senegal and Southern France, circa 1900,” investigates the relocation of West African mental patients to a large public asylum in Marseille between 1897-1914. The second considers the emergence of hoarding disorder as a stand-alone psychiatric diagnosis, a public health hazard, and a media spectacle in contemporary North America.