Suicidology’s Cultural Turn, and Beyond, Vila Lanna, Prague, Czech Republic

Conference: Suicidology’s Cultural Turn, and Beyond

Dates: March 19-20 2016

Venue: Vila Lanna, Prague, Czech Republic (

Organizing institutions: The Institute of Ethnology, The Czech Academy of Sciences, v.v.i. and the School of Social Work, Wayne State University

Organizers: Ludek Broz, Michael Kral

Organizing Committee: Ian Marsh, Daniel Münster, Jennifer White

Call for participation:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the consumption of anti-depressants in the US has risen by 400 % since 1998. In the same period, the US suicide rate has remained essentially the same. It seems that the somewhat simplistic equation associating suicide with depression leads to policies and practices that fail to deliver what is hoped for. Many within suicidology have become frustrated by the limitations of dominant pathologising and medicalized approaches to suicide research and prevention practices. Believing that suicidology is in need of a critical re-thinking of its subject matter and a broadening of it disciplinary basis, they look at cultural practices of making sense of suicide, taking into account how suicide is shaped by history, politics, gender, and power. Simultaneously, anthropology, which is strong in undermining universalising ethnocentric understandings, has begun to seriously engage with the topic of suicide. Over recent years a growing body of literature in the anthropology of suicide has appeared. The rise of critical suicidology and proliferation of anthropology of suicide are only partly informed of each other.

The main goal of this symposium is to explore and stimulate further synergies between critical and anthropological suicidology. Suicidology, the traditionally multidisciplinary enterprise, has too often pacified other disciplines into its well-established, even though not necessarily productive, operational schemes. Our aim is to inspire an encounter with anthropology that would be fundamentally transformative. Anthropology, for its part, has for a long time suffered a strange phobia when it came to practical uses of its knowledge. Productive engagement with suicidology can contribute to the ongoing process of reinventing anthropology as an engaged activity. Critical suicidology and the anthropology of suicide can collaboratively develop practical tools of engagement that would go against the current “one size fits all” evidence-based trend in suicide prevention/intervention (that, ironically, is losing ground under the weight of evidence available) towards collective and community-driven approaches. As a counterpoint to current research on suicide, which is primarily located in quantitative and positivist studies, the collaboration we envisage will emphasize the importance of qualitative and ethnographic research on suicide, rethinking the very meaning of evidence vis-à-vis a good or bad life and a good or bad death.

The symposium will bring together authors gathered in the two recent volumes (White et al. 2015; Broz & Münster 2015), who represent both critical suicidology and anthropologists working on suicide as well as other interested scholars and practitioners. We welcome submissions of presentation abstracts from critical suicidologists, anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists and other specialists addressing above outlined problems.

The format of the symposium will accommodate individual presentations as well as themed panel discussions. The symposium is meant to stimulate multi-layered outcomes such as collaborative research and publications and policy cooperation, on both individual as well as institutional levels.



Broz, L. & D. Münster (eds) 2015. Suicide and Agency: Anthropological perspectives on self-destruction, personhood and power. (Studies in Death, Materiality and the Origin of Time). Farnham: Ashgate.

White, J., I. Marsh, M. J. Kral & J. Morris (eds) 2015. Critical Suicidology: Transforming Suicide Research and Prevention for the 21st Century. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.


Submit your abstract to:

Submission deadline: December 15, 2015