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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 20-26

The Global South: An Emergent Epistemology for Social Psychiatry

Department of Psychiatry, Montreal University Institute of Mental Health; Department of Psychiatry and Addictions, University of Montreal, Montréal, Québec, Canada; Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Vincenzo Di Nicola
Department of Psychiatry, Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal (IUSMM), 7401, rue Hochelaga, Montréal, Québec,H1N 3M5

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/WSP.WSP_1_20

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This essay introduces the sociopolitical notion of the Global South as a bridge between globalization and the global mental health (GMH) movement that offers an emergent apparatus or conceptual tool for social psychiatry. A brief history of the Global South reveals that it is wider and deeper than economic and geopolitical notions such as the Third World, the developing world, and the nonaligned movement across a broad swathe of history and culture. I then turn to globalization and its critics, examining critiques of economics, human rights, and problems associated with humanitarian services. A feature of GMH, “the health gap,” is contrasted with “the epistemic gap,” a divide between the epistemologies of the North and emergent Southern epistemologies. Three key features of the Global South – conviviality, porosity, and syncretism – are discussed with examples from my practice of social psychiatry with consultations in child psychiatry and family therapy in Haiti and Brazil. Finally, the Global South is affirmed as a conceptual and clinical apparatus for social psychiatry.

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