Narratives of mental illness in contemporary Namibia


  • Dr Mattia Fumanti

    University of St Andrews

Project summary

During this project, I will aim to reach a comparative understanding of mental illness in contemporary Namibia through in-depth, interdisciplinary research that illuminates its post-colonial present in the light of its colonial past, highlighting breaks and continuities in discourse and practice.

I will use accounts from patients and their families to address two inter-related themes. The ‘content of madness’ will examine the patients’ subjective narratives and their subsequent medicalisation, and ‘the emotional world’ of insanity will include the proactive engagement of families as they redirect, support and/or oppose medical interventions. Central to this project is the use of an interdisciplinary approach and varied methodologies, including archival research, audio recordings and multi-media fine art practices. I will assess available archives and lines of research, test experimental methodology and establish an interdisciplinary network of academics, mental health practitioners and artists in Namibia.

My research will lead to a photography and art exhibition, collaborative publications and an end-of-project workshop.