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Enchanted Worlds and Human Meaning

When: Thursday, March 30, 2023, 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Where: Colette Bowe Room, Queen Mary University of London Queens' Building, Ground Floor, 327 Mile End Road, London E1 4NS


The event will feature short presentations, roundtable and audience discussion to facilitate reflections on the role of spirituality in mental health and the possibilities of cross-disciplinary and transcultural engagement with these concerns. It is open to any academics and students interested in global mental health, cultural studies, anthropology, psychology, religious studies as well as mental health practitioners and people with lived experience.

Spiritual and religious perspectives are vital to creating meaning and value for most of the world’s population, but ‘spiritual beliefs’ are often seen in opposition to ‘modern’ secular approaches to mental health care, such as psychiatric treatment, or through the prism of human rights. Spirituality is often associated with an enchanted ‘other’ – populations in the global south or ethnic minorities within high-income countries - and largely neglected within formal mental health services.

Through a series of short presentations and roundtable discussion, this event will problematise tendencies to relegate spiritual meaning around mental health to the global south, both geographically and conceptually.

The event poses the following questions:

• How can we better understand the value and diversity of spirituality and ritual practices that contribute to making meaning around experiences of mental health and illness?

• How can an enriched understanding of spirituality and religion in mental health be developed through interdisciplinary and inter-cultural dialogue and exchange?

• What are the possibilities and challenges for bringing together psychiatric treatment and spiritual and ritual practice in mental health care?

• What are the points of resonance and divergence between human rights perspectives and spiritual approaches to mental health?

• How can cross-disciplinary and inter-cultural dialogue foster engagement with and evaluation of the role of spirituality, religion and ritual for mental health across the globe?

About the Speakers

The speakers include:

Dr Lily Kpobi (University of Ghana),

Dr Bulbul Siddiqi (North South University, Bangladesh),

Dr Ursula Read (University of Warwick),

Agus Sugianto (Universitas Gajahmada and global mental health campaigner),

Dr Cristina Moreno Almeida (IHSS Fellow and Lecturer in Digital Cultures & Arabic Cultural Studies, Queen Mary University of London),

Sadaf Solangi (Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust),

Dr Camillia Kong (IHSS Fellow and Strategic Senior Lecturer, Queen Mary University of London).

About the Event

The Moroccan musician Simo Lagnawi, a Moroccan Berber and the UK's leading Guembri player will perform music in Gnawa tradition.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust Small Grant Re-Examining the ‘Global’ in Global Mental Health: African Understandings of Mental Disorder and Intellectual Disability and the IHSS, the event is free and will be followed by a drinks reception. All are welcome, but please register to join.

For more information please contact Dr Camillia Kong at

To book please visit the Eventbrite page.

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