Sponsored byInstitute for the HumanitiesSimon Fraser University
Madness, Citizenship and Social Justice

This public conference, hosted by the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University, will take place at the SFU Vancouver campus, British Columbia, Canada on Thursday June 12th through Sunday, June 15th, 2008. Our objective is to provide a forum in which critical topics and issues related to madness, citizenship, human rights and the role of the ‘psy’ professions can be explored across a range of intersecting positions and perspectives. Participants and delegates will include academics, users/survivors, activists, advocates, practitioners, and community workers from the local Vancouver area, across Canada and around the world. [more...]

Keynote Lecture: David Oaks David Oaks

Prospects for a Nonviolent Revolution in the Mental Health System During a Time of Psychiatric Globalization.

The western view of mental and emotional well being has tended to overemphasize the myth of a chemical balance. This medical model is one reason mainstream psychiatry has an over-reliance on authority, labels, psychiatric drugs and electroshock. The biopsychiatric approach is globalizing to poor developing countries as never before. Since about 1970 survivors of human rights violations in the mental health system have been organizing toward a nonviolent revolution in the mental health system. What are the opportunities and obstacles that confront this movement? How can psychiatric survivors unite with each other and with supportive allies? How can under-funded social change groups mainly found in richer countries support the emergence of leaders in poorer countries? What role can the cross-disability movement play in supporting the voice of psychiatric survivors in developing countries? What strategies can be used to influence international bodies such as the World Health Organization and United Nations? [more...]

World Mad Pride Biennale World Mad Pride Day Logo



Gallery Gachet, one of our Madness, Citizenship and Social Justice conference collaborators, announces World Mad Pride Biennale 2008: One Flew West: Old Landmarks, New Topographies. The One Flew West program will commence on June 6th, with selected events co-sponsored with MCSJ during the four days of our conference. The program closes with a celebration on Mad Pride Day, July 14th. Please do consider getting involved in these tremendously exciting events. Click Here for the full text of the Call for Artists for One Flew West.

Session Proposals

After the Kirby Report: A Critical Dialogue
(Marina Morrow, Convenor)

Senator Michael Kirby’s long awaited report on mental health, Out of the Shadows at Last: Mental Health, Mental Illness and Addictions in Canada was released in the Spring of 2006 to much positive acclaim. With few exceptions mental health providers and advocates have lauded the report and have widely called for the recommendations to be taken up at both the federal and provincial levels. Despite this, governments to date have shown little political commitment to addressing the issues raised by the report. Further, little critical public dialogue has occurred on the process and the content of the report. [more...]

Making ‘Mad’ Laws: Explorations and Critiques of Law-Making on Insanity, Mental Disorder and Mental Health (Kimberley White, Convenor)

The role of law in the regulation of madness and mad people has been pervasive and far reaching. Historically, the making of law and social policy aimed at identifying, classifying and managing the subjects of ‘madness’ (including defences of insanity/mental disorder, mental health legislation, eugenics policies, civil commitment etc.) has largely been the purview and privilege of an elite group of professionals. However, with the rise of rights discourse and activism, psychiatric survivor movements and advocates for social justice, the participants involved in some areas of law-making have changed (or are changing). [more...]

Frederick Wiseman: June 14, 2007 Frederick Wiseman

On Saturday June 14th, 2008, at 7:30 pm in the Fletcher Challenge Theatre of the SFU Vancouver Harbour Centre campus, the Institute for the Humanities will present “An Evening With Frederick Wiseman.” World-renowned director Frederick Wiseman will deliver a public lecture on the social justice dimensions of his four-decade body of work, with particular reference to his classic documentary Titicut Follies. Released in 1967 and subsequently banned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Titicut Follies is a stark and graphic portrayal of the conditions that existed at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane at Bridgewater, Massachusetts. [more...]

Tickets are limited, and may be purchased via the registration page of this website. Depending on availability, conference delegates and members of the public may also purchase tickets on site.


In collaboration with the MCSJ program, Pacific Cinémathèque (200 - 1131 Howe Street) will be screening Titicut Follies (7:00 pm) and Juvenile Court (9:00 pm) on the evening of Friday, June 13th. Frederick Wiseman will be in attendance to provide an introduction and field audience questions during the intermission.

We recommend that delegates pre-purchase tickets for the screening(s) via the Pacific Cinémathèque website. Please purchase early, as tickets are available on a first-come-first-served basis (Adults $9.50 CAN single bill, $11.50 double bill; Seniors/Students $8.00 single bill, $10.00 double bill). Tickets will also be on sale at the cinema and, subject to availability, at the conference site. Please present your conference name tag at the theatre door in order to have the $3.00 Pacific Cinémathèque membership fee waived.

Many thanks to Jim Sinclair, Executive Director, and the Pacific Cinémathèque management and staff, for their fine collaboration in presenting these Frederick Wiseman classics.

A Night of Mad Culture

We are staging this exciting program of live and filmed performances on the opening evening of the conference (Thursday, June 12th). Performers will include David Granirer and the popular Stand Up For Mental Health comedy players, and Toronto’s Friendly Spike Theatre Band.

Friendly Spike will be presenting Tied Together: A Mad People’s History Play, a performance framed within the activism of Ruth Ruth and Mel Starkman, and premised on the personification of three women pictured in Remembrance of Patients Past, Patient Life at The Toronto Hospital for the Insane, by Canadian historian and conference speaker Geoffrey Reaume.

In addition, we are honoured to be screening the Canadian premiere of Little Brother BIG PHARMA, a documentary produced and directed by David Heine, of AspectFILMS (Eugene, Oregon).

Please be sure to purchase a ticket for this very special occasion when you register online. Seating is limited.

Contribute to Future Publications

Preparations for Post-Conference Publications:

The organizers are excited to announce that plans are underway for producing post-conference publications based on selected contributions to Madness, Citizenship and Social Justice:

  1. Bruce Arrigo, Editor-in-Chief of the book series Critical Perspectives in Criminology (University of Illinois Press) and Criminal Justice and Psychology (Carolina Academic Press), has expressed interest in publishing edited volumes under one or both of these labels that will: (1) reflect the broad contours of the MCSJ conference; or (2) highlight particularly compelling themes addressed by various conference participants. Dr. Arrigo will be in attendance throughout the conference to discuss the plans for these envisioned book projects.
  2. Brenda LeFrançois, Editor of the Radical Psychology, reports that the journal’s board is interested in publishing a special issue featuring papers from the conference. Dr. LeFrançois will also be attending in June to participate in the conference program and confer about the options for this special issue