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Arya Thampuran

Assistant Professor (Research)

Assistant Professor (Research) in the Institute for Medical Humanities


I am an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Medical Humanities and co-lead the Black Health and the Humanities Network (BHH), now hosted by the IMH. I also co-lead the NNMHR-funded Neurodivergent Humanities Network (NHN).

My research is situated at the intersection of the medical humanities and critical race studies; I am interested in how creative practitioners in contemporary African diasporic contexts express mental health and healing in ways that exceed dominant Euro-American biomedical models and disrupt clinical framings of distress as ‘disorder’. My doctoral research at Durham explored how mental health is represented as a distinctly embodied, environmentally-embedded experience, drawing on critical discourses in Afrocentric philosophy, psychoanalysis, and psychiatry decolonial theory. This built on my BA and MA in literary studies, expanding its remit to include a multimodal primary corpus of life writing, film, visual and performance art by Afro-diasporic creatives.

Principally, my work is committed to a decolonial and intersectional approach. I am particularly interested in interrogating institutional models of illness and wellness, and the structural affordances of healthcare in marginalised, minoritised communities. Through the Black Health and the Humanities Network and Neurodivergent Humanities Network, I collaborate with academics, artists, and activists across different sectors to address issues of access and asymmetries in both healthcare and health-related research. This work feeds into the decolonial strand I am currently developing in the new Narrative Practices lab, part of the Discovery Research Platform for Medical Humanities.