The globalisation of psychiatry has helped shape the way suffering and recovery is experienced in Aceh, Indonesia, a region with a long history of violent conflict. In this book, Catherine Smith examines the global reach of the contested yet compelling concept of trauma, which has expanded well beyond the bounds of therapeutic practice to become a powerful cultural idiom shaping the ways social actors understand the effects of violence and imagine possible responses to suffering. In Aceh, conflict survivors have incorporated the globalised concept of trauma into local languages, healing practices and political imaginaries. The incorporation of this globalised idiom of distress into the Acehnese medical-moral landscape provides an ethnographic perspective on suffering and recovery, and contributes to contemporary debates about the globalisation of psychiatry and its ongoing expansion outside the domain of medicine.
Catherine Smith is an anthropologist who works across medical anthropology, political anthropology and global health research in order to understand the politics of health in the Asia Pacific region.