1. Dr. Kirmayer introduces the 2014 Advanced Study Institute (ASI) 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?

    You can view all videos of the lectures from the 2014 ASI on the 2014 ASI Channel.

    # vimeo.com/98467920 Uploaded 116 Plays 0 Comments
  2. 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.

    # vimeo.com/99360947 Uploaded 91 Plays 0 Comments
  3. 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.

    # vimeo.com/98559312 Uploaded 140 Plays 0 Comments
  4. 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.

    # vimeo.com/99360945 Uploaded 33 Plays 0 Comments
  5. This two-arm mixed-method study assessed the discourse around the Quebec Charter and its impact
    on the future of living together in Quebec. The first study used a qualitative design to thematically
    and critically analyze discourses around the Charter and hate-based events/discourses targeting
    minorities and published in official media. Results show that positions tend to be polarised and use
    an ideological discourse based on overlapping of religion and gender equality with an underlying
    association of religion with extremism and terrorism, thus targeting mainly Muslim communities
    and more specifically, veiled women. The second study consisted of a web survey filled by a
    targeted sample of 200 university students measuring discrimination, identity, psychological wellbeing
    and perception of intercommunity relations. Data collection is underway and analyses will
    consist of multiple regression predictive models.

    # vimeo.com/98672149 Uploaded 110 Plays 0 Comments

Advanced Study Institute (ASI) 2014 The Politics of Diversity: Pluralism, Multiculturalism and Mental Health

Globalization is bringing new tensions and challenges to efforts to build multicultural and inclusive societies. In the name of secularism, neutrality or security, policies are being enacted that target the cultural, linguistic and religious identities…


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Globalization is bringing new tensions and challenges to efforts to build multicultural and inclusive societies. In the name of secularism, neutrality or security, policies are being enacted that target the cultural, linguistic and religious identities and practices of minorities. Policies of multiculturalism and interculturalism that promised greater engagement with others are being challenged by appeals to the vulnerability of dominant groups and the need to reduce the threats of minorities who are portrayed as radical and divisive. This international conference and workshop will bring together scholars from cultural psychiatry, psychology, anthropology, political science, sociology and philosophy to explore basic questions including:

How does diversity contribute to mental health and well-being for individuals and communities?
How is the “other” constructed and what are the consequences of “othering” for recognition or discrimination and suppression of cultural values and practices?
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?

Sessions consider: (i) the social and political construction of the other; (ii) the psychology of “othering” and alterity with particular attention to gender; (iii) the relationship between diversity and mental health well-being; and (iv) strategies in mental health policy and practice to address the impact of social exclusion and respond to health disparities.

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