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Recognising & Understanding the Social Basis of Mental Illness: Advancing Creative Pedagogy, Participatory Practice and Interdisciplinary Understanding

This project by Claire Blencowe and Anna Harpin works towards interdisciplinary collaborative teaching and research on the social and cultural basis of mental health – drawing insight from debates in critical psychology, philosophy, sociology, performance studies, cultural studies and literature. It also develops research and pedagogy on the role of participatory practice (including participatory pedagogy, collaborative culture making, play, performance, and political engagement) as potential sites of social healing and mental wellbeing.

The core aims of the project are twofold. On the one hand it develops an interdisciplinary post-graduate module on the social basis of mental health for Warwick Students, to be available from 2017/18 to 20 students per year. On the other, it develops a participatory pedagogy community action project with disadvantaged adults. The two projects inform each other and involve students and community participants in the coproduction of a rich and exciting online resource that will in turn inform academic research, community practice and activism on the social basis of mental health. The project is thus promoting an inclusive horizontal and collaborative approach to knowledge and research. The project will also be associated with a professional theatre production by Idiot Child about anxiety, developing innovative participatory theatre practice.

Claire Blencowe is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-director of the Social Theory Centre. Her primary research areas include social and political theory/philosopher, biopolitics and cultures of life and health in relation to power, authority, and the intersection of capitalism and religion. She is committed to collaborative interdisciplinary working producing collaborative texts, projects, networks and events.


Anna Harpin is Associate Professor of Theatre and Performance. Her primary research area is cultural histories of madness and trauma and is currently completing a monograph on this topic. She also works as a theatre maker with her company, Idiot Child.