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Adolescent Sex and Psyche in Brazil: Surveillance, Critique and Global Mental Health

Authors
  • Béhague, Dominique P.1, 2
  • 1 Vanderbilt University, Center for Medicine, Health and Society, Nashville, USA , Nashville (United States)
  • 2 King’s College London, Department of Global Health & Social Medicine, London, UK , London (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Culture Medicine and Psychiatry
Publisher
Springer-Verlag
Publication Date
Nov 15, 2019
Volume
43
Issue
4
Pages
686–709
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1007/s11013-019-09659-0
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Green

Abstract

Drawing on a historical ethnography conducted in Southern Brazil, this article explores how public health programs for adolescent reproductive and mental health have emerged in Brazil and begun to intersect with the growing field of “global mental health” (GMH). The story I recount begins not in the 2010s with the rapid rise of expert interest in adolescent health within GMH, but in the 1990s, the decade when young teens in Brazil were first coming into contact with practices and approaches in research, schools and clinics that have both underpinned and critiqued the production of an adolescent mental and reproductive health sub-field. In parsing what young women’s encounters with the then newly-emerging questionnaires, measurement tools, school-based programs and clinical practices came to mean to them, I use a genealogical approach to consider how histories of education reform, population control, psychoanalysis, social medicine, the transition to democracy, feminism and grass-roots politics all entered the fold, shaping the way adolescent sex-and-psyche materialized as a contested object of expertise. I end by exploring what this case can teach global mental health advocates and social theorists about practices of critique.

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