John Marlovits


John Marlovits

Assistant Professor

Department of Anthropology

Current Research Activities

I'm researching how material conditions and cultural conditions shape mental health and illness; and how those experiences of psychic suffering are embedded in place. I also study how ableist assumptions about "normal experience" are embedded in social institutions, and how to create more inclusive spaces for neurodiverse groups.

Research Connections to Current Events

 I am interested in the cultural study of pershood and power, and the way that institutional presumptions and biases tacitly exclude neurodiverse groups, or even participate in the production of psychic suffering. We currently live in a mental health "crisis," although really this has been going on for multiple decades. This crisis is not the result of the nature of mental illness, but of large-scale, structural, cultural, and institutional failures to develop adequate social institutions of care. I study mental health care and mental illness historically, structurally, and politically, and examine the forms of exclusion, institutional failure, racism, ableism, and sexism that have shaped the ongoing mental health crisis. 

Personal Connections to Research

My late brother was severely disabled with cerebral palsy. I grew up in a world that rendered him invisible and a non-person. My grandmother developed a serious psychiatric condition that was plainly tied to a forced move that severed her from her community, place, and identity. These experiences shaped my concern for people that are mentally or physically disabled. And it attuned me to the centrality of social institutions of care (not just family), and to the significance of place-making in health, well-being, identity, and belonging. Intellectually I'm challenged in the violence of the normal -- and the neoliberal capitalist withdrawal of institutions of care -- both of which have severe, negative impacts on community, health, and well-being.