Helene Basu

Helene Basu is Professor of Social Anthropology at Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet Muenster. One main area of her teaching and research concerns the field of Transcultural Psychiatry. She teaches courses jointly with psychiatrists and psychologists on social anthropological and psychiatric discourses of mental disorder and participates in an interdisciplinary research team working on the history and institutionalization of transnational psychiatry.  She is also principal investigator in the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics in Pre-Modern and Modern Cultures” at WWU conducting a project on “Mental Health in India” (2008-2012).     

Helene Basu explores religious and medical diversity in the context of postcolonial Indian modernity by focusing on the construction, proliferation and transgression of boundaries between Islamic, Hindu and psychiatric institutions of healing disorders often perceived as a mixture of social, mental and cosmological disturbances. Her research interests include the anthropology of religion, possession and sorcery, the politics of medicalization as well as translocal and transnational mobilities, ritual, and transformations of personhood. In addition to written publications, she has produced an ethnographic film (“Drugs and Prayers – Indian Psychiatry in the Realm of Saints”) (http://www.uni-muenster.de/Ethnologie/Personen/Basu/). 


Publications include

(2009): Contested Practices of Control: Psychiatric and Religious Mental Health Care in India, in: Curare 32:28-39.

(2010a): Besessenheitskrankheit und Psychiatriereform in der indischen Moderne, in: Spiegel und Prisma. Ethnologie zwischen postkolonialer Kritik und Deutung der eigenen Gesellschaft, ed. Dorothea Schulz, Jochen Seebode, pp. 195-209. Hamburg: Argument Verlag.

(2010b). Possession. In Brill's Encyclopedia of Hinduism, ed. Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Naráyanan, pp. 416-26. Leiden: Brill

(2010c) Ethnologische Aspekte der Migration in: Praxis der interkulturellen Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, ed. Wieland Machleidt, Andreas Heinz, pp. 19-26. Elsevier: Urban & Fischer.

Basu, Helene/Grube, Nina/Steinforth, Arne, 2012: Social Anthropology and Transcultural Psychiatry: Contextualizing Multi-Disciplinary Contributions to the "International Conference on Religion, Healing, and Psychiatry, Münster, February 22-25 (Report), in: Curare 35 17-28.