Stephen McIsaac

Fellowship Recipient
Country Expertise: South Africa
Language Expertise:
Fellowship Year(s): 2014
Project/Theme Title: A Memory From the Future: Psychiatric Reform, Trauma, and Therapeutic Space in Postapartheid South Africa
Fellowship Year(s): 2016
Project/Theme Title: The Shifting Terrains of Violence and Trauma in Post-apartheid South Africa
Language: Xhosa
Abstracts: This project ethnographically examines the practices of care geared toward the effects of violence in community mental health in Cape Town, South Africa. While the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission foregrounded traumatic storytelling as the operative mode to deal with the legacies of state brutality and political violence, there has been shift of focus to the harmful effects of the high rates of violent crime in the country. This project addresses the central question of how traumatic memory has been transformed through the discursive shift from political violence to violent crime by focusing on how the effects of interpersonal and community violence are made intelligible, and cared for, within community mental health and psychiatry more broadly in South Africa. Based in Cape Town, currently South Africa’s most violent city, this project thus shows that understanding the transformations of discourses and practices geared toward traumatic memory within psychiatry and community mental health in an era of violent crime is crucial to understanding the state of the political in South Africa today.