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Race, Mental Health and State Violence: A Two-Day Symposium

Venue: Birkbeck Clore Management Centre

Registration for the two-day symposium is now open! The event is free and open to the public, but we do ask that everyone register so that we can plan appropriately. The symposium is funded by an Wellcome Trust/ Birkbeck ISSF Grant, with support from the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

Please see here for the full programme, including times.

We are pleased to announce the Keynote Speakers for the symposium:

Marcia Rigg (Day 1)
Co-Chair of United Families and Friends Campaign/ Sean Rigg Justice & Change Campaign.

Marcia Rigg is an activist and the sister of Sean Rigg, who died in Brixton police station in 2008. She has been a tireless organiser, advocate and campaigner on issues of mental health and deaths-in-custody for almost a decade. Her writings have appeared in The Huffington Post and elsewhere, and she has had enormous impact on the public discussion of the intersection of mental health, racism and policing in the UK. Read about UFFC here and Sean Rigg J&CC here.

Professor Camille Nelson (Day 1)
Dean of American University Washington College of Law, Washington D.C.

Professor Camille Nelson is author of the ground-breaking 2011 text 'Racializing Disability, Disabling Race: Policing Race and Mental Status'�. Her work is published widely in comparative and criminal law publications, such as the Journal of Politics and Law, the Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law, and the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism. Dean Nelson was the first Black woman to clerk for the Supreme Court of Canada, the first woman and person of colour to have been appointed dean at Suffolk University Law School, and the first Black person ever to be appointed dean at American University Washington College of Law. Read Professor Nelson's bio here.

Professor La Marr Jurelle Bruce (Day 2)
Assistant Professor of American Studies, Faculty Affiliate in African American Studies, Theater & Performance Studies, and Women's Studies

Recipient of the 2014 Weixlmann Award from African American Review and the 2016 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, Professor Bruce is on the faculty of American Studies at the University of Maryland. His writing is featured or forthcoming in American Quarterly; GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies; Oxford Bibliographies in African American Studies; Social Text; and TDR: The Drama Review. Professor Bruce's book project in progress, How to Go Mad without Losing Your Mind: Madness and Black Radical Creativity, is a study of black artists who mobilize 'madness'� in radical literature and performance. Read his bio here.

The symposium:

There are many ways to understand how the state regulates and controls those within its domain along and between the lines of race and mental health. Whilst these two categories cannot be disentangled from the myriad other ways in which we are called upon by the state, reading race and mental health together may allow us to revisit the ways the state positions many of us along the axes of atavistic and civilized, fragility and strength, capability and incapacity, malice and disinterest, redeemable and irredeemable. A close and creative analysis of these logics, their contemporary and historic manifestations, and forms of resistance to these such logics may help us to imagine the possibilities for a different type of future world. These will be the themes of this two-day symposium.

Whilst the first day is dedicated to engaging with policy and legal frameworks for understanding the interaction between the state (predominantly policing institutions) and civilians at the intersection of race, gender and mental health, the second day aims to examine 'the state' more broadly. Using a range of disciplinary perspectives from the humanities, arts and social sciences, the second day aims to critically examine the field of tension at the interface of the state logics of race and mental health.

For more information, contact Dr Eddie Bruce-Jones ( and Dr Monish Bhatia (

Please note that latecomers to the event are not guaranteed entry. Please be advised that photographs may be taken at the event for use on the Birkbeck website and in Birkbeck marketing materials. By attending this event, you consent to Birkbeck photographing and using your image for these purposes. By registering for this event you consent to your email address being added to the School of Law, Birkbeck mailing list. Your email address will not be shared with third-party organisations. If you would like to request your removal from our mailing list please contact

This event is part of the School of Law's 25th Anniversary celebrations. The School of Law, Birkbeck was founded in 1992 as a Department of Law with three members of academic staff. Over the last twenty-five years it has become a School comprising the Departments of Law and Criminology as well as the Institute for Criminal Policy Research, four research Centres, 40 members of staff and an overall student body of over 1,000. The School is proud of being a pioneer in establishing and developing a hub for the field of critical legal studies. While our national and international reputation has been forged through critical legal research, more recently we have gained recognition for critical criminological and activist research, socio-legal scholarship and policy-engaged empirical research. In recognition of this the last Research Excellence Framework exercise ranked us as being in the top 10 law schools in the UK and in the top 3 in London, while our research environment was judged conducive to producing research of the highest quality.

In this our 25th Anniversary year we will be holding a series of events reflecting on our history and successes as well as looking forward to the opportunities and challenges facing critical legal and criminological teaching and scholarship in the 21st century. Find out more about the 25th Anniversary celebrations here.

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