Fall 2019 - SA 359 D100

Special Topics in Anthropology (A) (4)

Culture, Mental Health & Therapeutic Governance

Class Number: 5871

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Wed, 9:30 a.m.–1:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Jie Yang
    1 778 782-4297
    Office: AQ 5056
    Office Hours: We 13:30-13:30, or by appointment
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



Explores a topic in Anthropology not regularly offered by the department.


Culture, Mental Health, and Therapeutic Governance

The course familiarizes students with the social, cultural, economic and political underpinnings of mental distress and psycho-medical practices in societies throughout the world. Mental and emotional distress involves more than psychobiological dysfunction. They are also produced by broader forces, including the political economy, history, and social hierarchies of particular groups. The course covers major and moderate psychiatric disorders and psychological and emotional disorders and their treatment as well as the use of mental illness and psychology by states and institutions as technologies to govern the population and social life. It examines topics such as somatization, medicalization, psychologicalization, global inequities, local desires, and modern plagues. While evidence points to the universality of mental conditions like schizophrenia, culture shapes how people experience, and respond to, mental illnesses. The course thus pays particular attention to “culture.” We explore the various ways in which “culture” shapes illnesses and “culture” is used in discourses on health. Readings are drawn from cultural psychology, and psychological/psychiatric anthropology that emphasize the centrality of culture in understanding psychopathology, as well as from clinical, community, and counseling psychology that focus on therapeutic practice with individuals from diverse socio-cultural groups (based on gender, class, race or sexual orientation). The course offers students interdisciplinary perspectives on culture, psychopathology, and therapeutic governance.


  • Presentation/discussion leadership and participation 30%
  • Group peer-review exercise (essay abstract and outline) 5%
  • Midterm quiz 10%
  • Final essay 45%
  • Final exam 20%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and you do not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, you will be assigned an N grade. Unless otherwise specified on the course outline, all other graded assignments in this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned.

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology and Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website: http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student.html.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html