Anthropology Seminar Series 2023 | Environ/mental: Towards a Planetary Mental Health | Dr James Dunk
Anthropology Seminar Series:
Environ/mental: Towards a Planetary Mental Health
Speaker: Dr James Dunk
A02, Room 441 and Zoom
Planetary health is a decade-old transdisciplinary agenda expanding the health metaphor to include Earth and its living systems in order to preserve human health and life – but a planetary mental health has been slow to emerge. This paper explores the reasons for this reluctance and the programme (or programmes) for this new endeavour that have been emerging in a range of fields and practices, including human ecology, environmental and survival psychologies, and mental health. I ask how the cultures of planetary health and mental health may conflict or collide, and how each may be transformed by the commitments of the other, and argue that a planetary mental health requires the challenging convergence of the personal and the planetary, drawing the wide abstractions of planetary health down to the subjectivity and immediacy of present lived experience. Attending also to First Nations and other theorists I argue, too, that a mental health which is fit for purpose in the Anthropocene will require radical reconceptualisations of self and other, person and planet, and the relations which bind them.
Dr James Dunk is a historian and interdisciplinary researcher exploring how psychology and mental health have been transformed by planetary crisis. A Research Fellow in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney, he leads the planetary mental health theme on the ARC discovery project Planetary Health Histories: Developing Concepts, co-directs the Ecological Emotion Research Lab and convenes the Climate Distress, Art and Open Dialogue Community of Practice and the research collective At a Loss for Words of Loss. His first book, Bedlam at Botany Bay, won the NSW Premier’s Australian History Prize, and his research on planetary health, mental health and ecological distress has been published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Sustainability, History of Psychology, Rethinking History, and elsewhere, together with reviews and essays in various literary journals.