Material Engagement and Mental Health Workshop
The links between material engagement and mental health, how the one affects and impacts the other, was the theme of a cross-disciplinary workshop that took place between Monday 1st and Tuesday 2 of April 2019 at the School of Archaeology.
The workshop, organised by Dr Lambros Malafouris (Director ERC HANDMADE), brought together a range of specialisations from archaeology, anthropology, psychiatry, medicine, neuroscience, psychology, education, design, material science, art history and philosophy. This combination of theoretical perspectives and methods enabled productive dialogue across disciplinary boundaries. Some key strands that emerged from this dialogue concern: (a) the role of crafts and creative industries in psychotherapy; (b) the development of evidence-based understandings of the therapeutic effects and sensory qualities of different materials and digital media; (c) the role of museums in mental health as a space for creative interventions (e.g. object handling); (d) the importance of touch and of the human sensory experience of materials both in physical and digital environments; and finally (e) the cultural dimensions of mental health and well being. There is unrealised potential here for creating new approaches to mental health that can complement existing practices and broaden, or in some cases challenge, prevailing assumptions in the field. Fostering in-depth understanding of the material basis and ecology of mental health is a necessary step for developing interventions and practical solutions enabling people to improve their psychological well-being. To read more about this subject, click here to access Dr Malafouris's article 'Understanding the effects of materiality on mental health'.
The meeting was funded through the School’s ESRC IAA Strategic Impact Capacity Building Fund, Keble College and the ERC HANDMADE: Understanding creative gesture in pottery making.
Participants: Laura van Broekhoven (Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford), Shaun Gallagher (Philosophy, University of Memphis), Jonathan Cole (Consultant in clinical neurophysiology Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust), Neil Armstrong (Anthropology, University of Oxford ), Andreas Roepstorff (Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University), John Harries (Archaeology, University of Oxford) Vasu Reddy (Developmental Psychology, University of Portsmouth), Carey Jewitt (Institute of Education, University College London), Bruna Petreca (Material Science, Royal College of Art), Douglas Atkinson (UCL Knowledge Lab), Linda Thomson (University College London, biosciences), Jim Harris (Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford), Katerina Fotopoulou (Psychodynamic Neuroscience, University College London), Roger Kneebone (Centre for Engagement and Simulation Science, Division Surgery, Imperial College London), Frank Rohricht (Consultant Psychiatrist & Medical Director, East London NHS), Maria Danae Koukouti (Archaeology, University of Oxford), Antonis Iliopoulos (Archaeology, University of Oxford), Paul March (Archaeology, University of Oxford), Catherine O’Brien (Archaeology, University of Oxford) and Chris Gosden (Archaeology, University of Oxford).