« Older Entries

Natacha Premand – Black Sheep and Mass Immigration: The Use of Caricature in Rejection of the “Other” (ASI 2014)

In recent years, right-wing political parties in Switzerland have initiated several referenda on issues pertaining to the admission and residency of foreigners. In this paper, I will examine the ways in which the “other” is constructed in the political discourse of Switzerland’s Union Démocratique du Centre, one of the instigators of these referenda. I will argue that the image of foreigners in official discourse as important contributors to Swiss society and the economy is successfully undermined by their depiction by the right wing as “black sheep” – literally so in one controversial but effective advertising campaign. By also associating negative characteristics with particular ethnic groups, the right seeks to elicit fear and rejection. This contributes to establishing negative connotations with respect to all foreigners or minority groups, regardless of any explicit or specific voicing of concerns. In response to these campaigns, the United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has recommended that the Swiss Federal Commission on Racism be given more independence from government and be empowered to regulate the media and political
discourse. The paper attempts to better define the space created by these campaigns as a site of impact on the mental health of foreign populations and minority groups that has been neglected and is in need of urgent study.

Daniel Weinstock – Feminism, the Veil, and the Problem of False Consciousness (ASI 2014)

Defenders of Muslim women’s right to veil (and of women of other faiths’ rights to engage in practices which are judged by mainstream feminists as betokening female subjugation) often point to the fact that many women who veil claim to be doing so freely, in the absence of all coercion of constraint. Some feminists retort that these women are victims of “false consciousness.” Their claim is that these women have so fully internalized patriarchal norms that their coerced actions appear to them to be free. My paper will examine arguments of false consciousness in the context of liberal democracies. On the one hand, such claims must be used with great parsimony in a political culture which is hesitant to intervene paternalistically in the choices made by citizens. What’s more, false
consciousness arguments are suspect in that on the face of it they fail the Popperian test of falsifiability. On the other hand, it is hard to deny that some women do find themselves in oppressive conditions that tend to favour the formation of adaptive preferences. My goal is to develop a liberal theory of false consciousness, one that, first, insists upon respecting the choices made by women against the backdrop of fair background conditions, but that questions those arrived at when such conditions are lacking, and that, second, adopts modes of intervention in cases of false consciousness that avoid paternalistic excesses.

“Vivre ensemble” through Difference: The Construction of Muslims as Other in Quebec, Uzma Jamil, University of South Australia

The difference of Muslim minorities living in multicultural, Western societies is often posed as a problem, if not a threat, to national identity and social cohesion. This conceptualization of Muslim difference draws from Orientalist discourse which constructs the Muslim Other in relation to the West as a negative, as a “lack of” certain qualities which define the West. Critiquing this essentialized and fixed relationship, this paper considers how difference is constructed through a process contextualized within minority-majority relations, in other words, arguing that the difference of Muslims as minorities is socially and political constructed through the difference of the majority. Applied to the case of Quebec, the ways in which Quebec conceptualises itself as different in relation to English Canada – through language, culture and national identity – shapes the ways in which it articulates the difference of Muslim minorities as Other. This argument is illustrated through two examples, the public discourse about Muslims in relation to the proposed Charter of Quebec Values in 2013-2014 and the reasonable accommodation issue and the Bouchard-Taylor Commission in 2007-2008.

Introduction to the 2014 Advanced Studies Institute on The Politics of Diversity: Pluralism, Multiculturalism and Mental Health

Dr. Kirmayer introduces the 2014 Advanced Study Institute on The Politics of Diversity: Pluralism, Multiculturalism and Mental Health
Topics to be covered during the ASI include:
-How is the “Other” constructed psychologically, socially and politically?
-What are the consequences of “othering” for the mental health and well-being of individuals and communities?
-What are the implications of recent challenges to multiculturalism and attacks on diversity in the public space for the health and well-being of populations?
-How can mental health research, policy and practice address the challenge of social integration in culturally diverse societies?


Eric Jarvis on the Cultural Consultation Service

“We live in a time of mass migration and of displaced populations and receiving countries are really strained to accommodate and understand new arrivals and it is causing questions, soul-searching questions around the world. Governments and medical institutions struggle to understand how to help people.”

Dr. Eric Jarvis, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at McGill University and Director of the Cultural Consultation Service speaks about the Cultural Consultation Service (CCS). Using examples from previous patients drawn from an incredibly diverse population in Montreal, Dr. Jarvis walks us through what cultural consultation is; how it is different from the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) and Cultural Competence; why Cultural Consultation is important; how a Cultural Consultation session is conducted; what does the service achieve; and what the future holds for the Cultural Consultation Service.

Panel discussion on Diversity Advocacy, the proposed Charter of Quebec Values

“I understand there’s a legacy and a reasoning and a discourse that we are all aware of. I guess what is frightening is it is now a political power issue. It’s a fragile time and it’s done on the backs of the most vulnerable people in the population. To me that mobilizes a tremendous amount of anguish.” Jaswant Guzder

Speakers at the 50th anniversary event for the journal of Transcultural Psychiatry discuss diversity, advocacy and specifically address the proposed Charter of Quebec Values.

This video includes comments from Dr. Morton Weinfeld, Chair of Ethnic Studies, McGill; Dr. Jaswant Guzder, Head of Child Psychiatry, Jewish General Hospital; Dr. Eric Jarvis, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Cultural Consultation Service, McGill; Dr. Cécile Rousseau, Director of Transcultural Child Psychiatry Services, Montreal Children’s Hospital; Dr. Laurence Kirmayer, head of the Division of Social and Transcultural Psychiatry, McGill; and from members of the audience.

Cécile Rousseau: Refugee Advocacy

“There’s still a very ongoing and recent debate…Are you first an undocumented or are you first a child? The shrinking of rights is accompanied by a shift towards the privilege paradigm: whatever you receive from our society is a privilege and not a right.”

Cécile Rousseau, Director of the Transcultural Child Psychiatry Clinic at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, talks about advocating for refugee and migrant children’s rights. What are the shifting perceptions of refugees, what are the diverse voices within refugee advocacy, what are some processes of advocacy and what are its outcomes?

Jaswant Guzder on Child Cultural Consultations

Jaswant Guzder, head of Child Psychiatry at the Jewish General Hospital, talks about Cultural Consultation sessions with children. What are the principles of child cultural competence, what are some typical agendas during child cultural consultations, and what are some themes of concern?

Roberto Lewis-Fernández on the Cultural Formulation Interview

“What should we know about you that contextualizes you and understands you from a cultural lens?”

Roberto Lewis-Fernández, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University talks about the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI): what are its uses, is it only for use with people from a cultural minority, and how can practitioners learn to use it?

Geshe Jinpa Thupten on translating Buddhist sources of knowledge

“In some sense I’m a universalist at heart and I generally believe that any particular insight into the human condition, any particular technique for cultivating greater happiness and overcoming of suffering and making people become more rooted, grounded, and centred, that may have been developed anywhere historically in different parts of the world in different cultures should now be made available to the larger community.”

Geshe Thupten Jinpa, General Series Editor of the Library of Tibetan Classics, talks about translating classic Tibetan texts for the Western world and the challenges entailed in bringing these texts out of their cultural context.

This podcast was recorded during the 2013 Advanced Studies Institute (ASI) Conference on Mindfulness in Cultural Context. The 2014 ASI theme is “The Politics of Diversity: Pluralism, Multiculturalism and Mental Health”. For more information and to register, please visit the Division of Transcultural Psychiatry’s main site.

« Older Entries
Blog authors are solely responsible for the content of the blogs listed in the directory. Neither the content of these blogs, nor the links to other web sites, are screened, approved, reviewed or endorsed by McGill University. The text and other material on these blogs are the opinion of the specific author and are not statements of advice, opinion, or information of McGill.