Emily Martin

The Bipolar condition: sociality and conformity

March 16, 2015

Emily Martin is Professor of Anthropology at New York University and an internationally renowned scholar. One of the earliest feminist anthropologists, Martin’s diverse body of work has explored technoscience, reproduction, the immune system and psychology. Her research areas include science and medicine, gender, cultures of the mind, emotion and rationality, history of psychiatry and psychology, US culture and society. Her analysis of how gendered understandings of reproduction naturalize social conventions of gender have been foundational to the field of feminist science studies. She is the author of five books. Her monograph, Bipolar Expeditions: Mania and Depression in American Culture (Princeton UP, 2009), won the 2009 Diana Forsythe Prize for the best book in feminist anthropological research on work, science, and technology. Martin’s publications have been reprinted multiple times and translated into many languages. Martin has received numerous grants and fellowships, including the prestigious Guggenheim and American Council of Learned Societies fellowships as well as generous grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Institutes of Health.

The Bipolar condition: sociality and conformity

4:00-5:00 PM Public Lecture, Room 102 EBW

In this illustrated lecture, Martin explores psychiatric categories involving emotion through ethnographic fieldwork in the contemporary US. She asks how these categories are culturally created, measured and applied in relation to gender and race; then modified, contested, and rejected in contexts such as clinical rounds, patient advocacy support groups, and internet newsgroups. Some issues raised include: What definitions of rationality do mood disorders entail? What are the implications for the personhood of the patient of treating “irrational” mood disorders with psychotropic drugs intended to “manage” them? What are the stakes of the current broad revaluing of “mania” for larger cultural contexts, such as competitive US corporations, which now place a high value on energized, “manic” states for the sake of the innovation and creativity they are believed to yield?