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Singh, Bhrigupati

Grant Type
Post-Ph.D. Research Grant
Insitutional Affiliation
Brown U.
Status
Completed Grant
Approve Date
Project Title
Singh, Dr. Bhrigupati, Brown U., Providence, RI - To aid research on 'Transformations of Sadness in Contemporary India: Explorations within Cinema, Psychiatry and the Everyday Life of Urban Poverty'

DR. BHRIGUPATI SINGH, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, was awarded funding in April 2015 to aid research on 'Transformations of Sadness in Contemporary India: Explorations within Cinema, Psychiatry and the Everyday Life of Urban Poverty.' Ethnographic field research was conducted across three sites: the psychiatry ward of India's premier medical institution, the All India Institute for Medical Sciences (AIIMS, Delhi); two community psychiatry clinics run by AIIMS in urban poor 'resettlement' neighborhoods in Delhi; and a Sufi Muslim shrine renowned for the treatment of mental illness. Rather than concentrating on a single institution, it was found that these relatively unpredictable movements between hospitals, homes, and shrines are the signature circuit of mental health care in India. This project drew on a range of methods -- including ethnographic observation, repeat interviews over time, the tracing of journeys across sites with seemingly distinct ontological frameworks, household surveys, the writings of patients, as well as a close engagement with clinicians -- and an investigation of the ways in which ethnography might engage with and depart from psychiatric instruments. In addition a substantial visual archive was created (available upon request at http://indiancine.ma), tracing the shifting appearance of mental health issues in Hindi-Urdu cinema from 1950 to the present. The writings that grow out of this project are structured around three concepts -- vitalism, skepticism, and tempo -- none of which have previously been applied to the study of mental health, but which, as we hope to show, better help us to understand illness experience as well as the fragility of what constitutes health and conceptions of normalcy in the contemporary world.