South Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Situating Feelings: Imaginings of Place and Wellbeing in the Psychological Counselling Discourse in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Friday, July 6
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Marigold, New Building

How do new kinds of emotional discourses map onto and reconfigure popular imaginings of places, both literal and metaphorical? How do implicit ideas about the affective tenor of places and the people who inhabit them shape present action and expectations for the future? These questions emerge in the context of Sri Lanka’s diverse and expanding field of mental health care. While in the 1980s and 1990s Sri Lanka saw a proliferation of trauma interventions that employed psychological counseling in response to the war and later the tsunami, in the last ten years the field of counseling psychology has grown well beyond humanitarian interventions. Today, counseling services are provided across the country by NGOs, public hospitals, and local state agencies in both rural and urban areas and reach people of diverse class, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. This creates an especially interesting context for examining how psychological discourses become implicated in the production of social (and spatial) difference at multiple levels. In this paper I explore the ways in which well-worn themes—for example, the distinction between village and city or the link between family and national community—as well as entrenched discourses of marginality associated with particular places, are drawn on by practitioners to frame illness and wellbeing in ways that reach beyond individual distress and carry broader social implications. Affects and emotions become tied not only to persons but also to particular visions of place, engendering potential exclusions as well as articulating visions of collective wellbeing.

Nadia Augustyniak

The Graduate Center, CUNY, United States

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3 - Situating Feelings: Imaginings of Place and Wellbeing in the Psychological Counselling Discourse in Kandy, Sri Lanka



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