Translated from the French by Catherine Grandsard.

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In the past ten years, the field of French-speaking social sciences has witnessed the emergence of a new paradigm : ethnopsychiatry. Clearly, it had already happened that within ten to twenty years after the massive arrival of immigrants, Western psychiatry produced a sub-discipline crossbreeding anthropology and psychiatry. Indeed, comparable research programs appeared after World War Two, in the 50’s and 60’s, in the US and Canada, in the 70’s in Britain, Germany and Holland, and are flourishing today, in Italy, Switzerland, Belgium etc… In the United States, both empirical and classifying orientations were adopted, sign of the times or locally inspired : first, Folk Psychiatry, then Transcultural or Cross Cultural Psychiatry, and Medical Anthropology. In France, yet another sign of the times or local inspiration, as soon as ethnopsychiatry was developed in its clinical aspects it became the object of violent conflict, as if one aimed to force the discipline into a political debate rigged from the onset – pitting communities against the Republic, culturalism against universalism. Yet nothing is farther from the spirit of ethnopsychiatry than this imposed state of war. For almost twenty years, since the creation of the first ethnopsychiatry clinic at Avicenne Hospital, and for five years now at the Georges Devereux Center (2), part of the Psychology department of the University of Paris 8, the discipline has consistently provided a space for experimenting mediation. Now, in order to mediate one must first acknowledge misunderstandings, oppositions, conflicts, good or bad reasons to hold each other in contempt – in other words : recognize conflict, define it, and then take diplomatic action. To act according to this philosophy of mediation amounts to putting confidence in an acceptable peace, in the possibility of learning to live with others. But the political situation in France doesn’t account for everything and the contradictions inherent to the field itself must be considered, as well as the personality of the man who introduced these questions : Georges Devereux.

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