Monday, September 25, 2017

From Madness to Medicine in Japanese Culture conference, September 28 and 29 at Pitt; documentary Does Your Soul Have a Cold?, September 27.

The University of Pittsburgh's Asian Studies Center will host the From Madness to Medicine in Japanese Culture conference on September 28 and 29, with a screening of the 2007 documentary Does Your Soul Have a Cold? on the 27th.
This symposium brings together a group of scholars from across the disciplines of anthropology, film, history, literature, the performing arts, and religious studies to interrogate the meanings of mental illness as they have been defined and transformed throughout Japanese history. Our intention is to bring intensive scrutiny to the particular cultural case of Japan. We begin with the premise that mental illnesses are in part cultural constructs, ones that have been the subject of interest and concern from earliest times. By engaging scholars across disciplines, we hope to identify places where disciplinary boundaries often limit our understanding of key concepts used to characterize behavioral anomalies, concepts like madness (kyōki 狂気), insanity (kichigai 気違い) mental illness (seishinbyō 精神病), and mental disability (seishin shōgai 精神障害). Further, we look not simply at the contemporary moment, but the historical layers that have contributed to Japanese descriptions of mental health, layers which inherently underpin and complicate modern terminologies, nosologies, and medical practices. We are interested in tracing how ideas about mental health emerged and were described, as well has how they influenced treatments throughout Japanese history. Some of the questions we explore are as follows: How have the Japanese defined and treated those whose mental states are not “healthy”? How have Japan’s interactions with other cultures and other cultural models affected definitions of mental health and illness? How can we see Japan’s historical experience with “mental health” as a touchstone in understanding the vital culturally specific dimensions to biological models of mental health and illness so universally prevalent today? How is globalizing biomedical ideas adapted and interpreted in distinctive ways in Japan?
The documentary will run from 7:30 to 9:30 pm in room G24 of the Cathedral of Learning. The conference's sessions will be held in the University Club's Gold Room (map). A full schedule of presenters is available online. All sessions are free and open to the public, though RSVP is required for lunch.