In 2014 I received a PhD in Social Anthropology from Goldsmiths, University of London, where I also graduated with an MRes in Social Anthropology (2009) and a BA (Hons) in Anthropology and Media (2008). In my doctoral work, supervised by professors Sophie Day, David Greaber and Victoria Goddard, I explored mental health activism in the contemporary United Kingdom. In particular, the project focused on the use of media in mental health campaigning, current transformations of health services and the voluntary sector as well as non-medical ways of addressing mental health problems. I am particularly interested in environmental aspects of illness, the ways in which use of language and narrative can hinder or facilitate recovery practices and, in my analysis, I explore the extent to which we could understand health as a phenomena mediated through and evoked as part of diverse landscapes. With a conviction that both anthropology and ethnography have the capacity to contribute to the social milieux they investigate, I strive to integrate volunteering as a participatory research method. Among other roles, I have been working as a documentary filmmaker and used the medium of film as a form of ethnographic involvement. Some of my work can be found here: https://vimeo.com/krzys
Title of research project:
Epistemology of Inner Peace: Transcultural Approaches to Yoga Therapy for Mental Health
Focus of research:
Yoga: its philosophical and textual foundations and their relation to modern interpretations and applications in treatment, therapy and wellbeing practices
Yoga, mental health, global and transcultural health practices, lifestyle medicine, self-healing, environmental dimensions of wellbeing
The principal aim of this project is to account for the recent developments in the area of yoga therapy for mental health in both India and Europe. This is in response to the continually growing global popularity of yoga, the expanding biomedical interest with the restorative and curative outcomes of yogic practice as well as the efforts to standardise and professionalise yoga therapy. All these developments raise a number of pertinent questions regarding transcultural understandings and appropriations of yoga and its knowledge on one hand and new notions, meanings and practices around mental health that arise alongside therapeutic applications of yoga on the other. The proposed project is aiming to address these issues through a multisited ethnographic research that will entail participant observation in yoga therapies and trainings, in-depth interviews with teachers, students/patients and biomedical researchers working in the field of yoga as well as ethnography online. The theoretical outlook of this research draws from the anthropological, phenomenological and human geography’s understandings of landscape, body and self, which will help in exploring yoga, its transnational interpretations and ideas about health it promotes as fundamentally environmental concerns. Ultimately, the project is designed to provide an in-depth analysis of the applications and understandings of yoga in the context of mental health and from within diverse cultural settings and scientific paradigms.
Bierski, Krzysztof. 2016. Recovering mental health across outdoor places in Richmond, London: Tuning, skill and narrative. In: Health & Place 40, 137-144.
Bierski, Krzysztof (2015): "Something We All Have" – Mental health, activism and media in the United Kingdom. In: World Cultural Psychiatry Research Review 10 (3-4): 138-148.
Selected Conference Presentations