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Anne M Lovell

Social anthropologist, Senior Researcher, Inserm

Contact: annemlovell(at)




I am a social anthropologist working at the intersection of medical anthropology and anthropology of science. My research has always concerned itself with how illness, health and notions of the "mental" are shaped within a nexus of culture, kinship, economies and other elements. In my research on how psychiatry and related disciplines come to "know", I use my additional training in psychiatric epidemiology to understand concepts, logics, and ways of knowing in the social worlds of psychiatric scientists.

My early work in New York City looked at how temporal practices, interstitial space, narrative and social networks shaped the lives and possibilities of homeless street people with psychiatric vulnerabilities. My ethnographies of innovative, consumer-centred programs for people labelled mentally ill focused on the paradoxes of choice-driven and empowerment practices within the larger world of urban communities, city and state administrations and street-level bureaucracies. I then applied my interest in social networks to intravenous drug use in Marseilles, examining the relationship between forms of capital and risk, and later the phenomenon of trans-national trajectories driven by the variation in moral positioning of drug treatment across nation-states. What I call "pharmaceutical leakage" of a new treatment for opiate addiction – buprenorphine – from medical settings to the neighbourhoods of Marseilles led me to trace the place of this pharmaceutical within a larger, globalized history of addiction research.

More recently, I have become interested in dialogues between philosophies of becoming and anthropology, which undergird my recent publications and book-in-progress on care, pre-existing psychiatric disabilities and the temporality of disaster. This work draws on a four-year ethnography of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Currently, my research examines the shift over the last half century in psychiatric discourses of mental health and disease in Senegal, the ways they map onto colonial and post-colonial relationships between France, Senegal and the "global North" more generally, as well as how local and non-biomedical approaches to mental disturbances affect knowledge construction within psychiatric epidemiology and critical psychiatry.

I continue to collaborate within a critical public health perspective on applied questions such as homelessness policy, the development of local public health in France, user representation and health democracy.

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Centre de recherche, médecine, sciences, santé, santé mentale, société
UMR CNRS 8211 - Unité Inserm 988 - EHESS - Université Paris Cité
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Campus CNRS

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Université Paris Cité

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