ENPA 2021 Conference

The first Biennial Conference of the European Network for Psychological Anthropology (ENPA)
took place 1–3 June 2021, online (Hosted by the University of Helsinki, in collaboration with EASA), see conference report (pdf).

Mind Embedded and Embodied – Futures of Psychological Anthropology

As the global political economy becomes increasingly multipolar, the assumption that psychological and bio-psychiatric ‘insights,’ predominantly produced in the ‘West,’ may be imposed on other social groups, is increasingly open to question. Psychological anthropology is uniquely positioned to address the tensions between universalising and relativising understandings of the human condition. As the first ENPA Biennial, this conference will be launched as an inclusive forum for scholars from a wide range of disciplinary and thematic orientations to discuss, theorise and reflect on historically and socio-culturally situated concepts of the mind, the body, and their entanglements in cultural, social, and/or political worlds. Critical perspectives on the concepts of mainstream psychology – that posit humans as subject to universal psychological patterns of feeling, thinking and interacting – are encouraged; productive engagements across the disciplinary boundaries of anthropology and cognitive science, psychiatry, philosophy, evolutionary biology, and others will also be welcome. Through a fruitful dialogue within and between disciplines, the European Network for Psychological Anthropology (ENPA) aims to foster new insights not only in research contexts, but also in policy-making, therapy, and healing.

Keynote Speakers

Tyyne Claudia Pollman: Madeness
Tyyne Claudia Pollman is a conceptual artist and professor of anatomy and morphology in the field of Artistic Basics at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee. She works at the intersection of artistic research, psychiatry and critical epistemologies. 

This contribution commences with an unfolding of the human mind as embodied and embedded. It focuses on participatory sense-making and enactivism, which have proven to be important foundations for working out methods in artistic research (de Jaeger, di Paola, Fuchs, Kim). No longer following dichotomies of theory-practice or subject-object, the enactive conception of being-in-the-world unfolds possibilities of understanding complex situations, whereas specific methods need to be created and adapted to concrete situations. Basic approaches, modes of implementation and effects of the methods developed and probed during the artistic research project visions4people will be substantiated and unpacked. A crucial outcome of this project began by questioning our own roles in the structure of psychiatry, which resulted in omitting conventional design methods and in behavioural changes. This again led to a shift concerning the patient’s role: the patient was no longer seen as an affected person, but as a person who was becoming actively involved in interactive decisions, thus transforming the project. Examining the investigation and its investigators proved to be one of the most courageous undertakings, as this activity scrutinized not only our temporary situatedness in psychiatry but, furthermore, structures of academia. The embedding of this undertaking moved to the foreground, eliciting societal and political aspects and impacts. Finally, after pre-enacting the possible futures of joint research, the lecture will draw attention to the “nowness” of the conference and to its specific components and affective arrangements. 

Charles Stafford: The politics of cognition – or, why we need a more radical economic psychology
Charles Stafford is a professor at the Department of Anthropology, London School of Economics and Political Science.

This lecture will focus on the (sometimes difficult) relationships between three human science disciplines: anthropology, psychology and economics. It will examine in particular the approach of these disciplines to questions of economic psychology, broadly defined. For reasons that are well known, anthropologists have long rejected economists’ models of rational choice. The idea that ‘individual decision-making’ is at the heart of economic agency in the flow of human history is not only wrong, as anthropologists see things, but in fact ideological: part of the apparatus that sustains capitalism. As a consequence, however, anthropologists have failed to properly examine not only economic psychology, as a general category of human experience, but also its political implications. I will argue for a substantivist economic psychology that sets out to address this.


You can download the programme and the list of abstracts here.


The keynotes, the Q&A with Mike Poltorak, and the Session on Publishing with Greg Downey can be found on our resources page under visuals, while the conference soundtrack can be found under audio resources.