China’s research interests lie mainly within critical interdisciplinary approaches to exploring cross/trans-cultural psychiatry and psychology, ‘global mental health’, global psychiatrization, psychotropic drugs, the pharmaceutical industry and (post)colonialism. She is interested in exploring how the psy-disciplines and psychotropic drugs function in local and global contexts of entrenched inequality, chronic poverty, neo-colonial oppression, unequal geopolitical power relations, and increasingly under the politics of austerity, and how they travel across geographical borders. In her work, China explores the potentially deleterious implications of the globalisation of the psy-disciplines and the pharmaceutical shaping of our very understandings of ourselves and of the social conditions in which our lives are embedded. China’s work is situated within two main strands;
Critical Educational Psychology
China is interested in using critical educational psychology as a tool to ask some difficult questions, to reimagine practise and to think ‘otherwise’:
What do we mean by ‘education’ and ‘psychology’?
What counts as a ‘good’, a ‘normal’ or a ‘healthy’ child, and who gets to decide?
What role (if any) should and could professionals, institutions and policy play in children and young people’s lives?
What are the social, political and economic contexts in which (young) people are labelled, diagnosed, and intervened upon?
What role might educational psychology play in local and global contexts of entrenched inequality, chronic poverty, neo-colonial oppression, unequal geopolitical power relations, and increasingly under the politics of austerity?
Can, and in what ways could, psychology be an ally to people, communities, and ways of knowing that have been marginalised, oppressed, co-opted, colonised, or erased?
Critical global mental health and wellbeing
China writes about global mental health as a movement and a field of study that is messy and contested. A key part of recognising this messiness means exploring:
The dilemmas and accounts of ‘doing’ mental health work in the global South, notably in contexts of poverty, entrenched social inequality and highly unequal global power relations.
The globalisation of psychiatry; accounts of how psychiatry travels, and of whether counter-approaches to mental health (alternative or indigenous frameworks) may travel too
Accounts of alternative ways of understanding health, distress and healing – counter-epistemologies and plural approaches from the global South and North.
Issues around colonialism, imperialism and psychiatry, and of possibilities for decolonising psychiatric practises, alongside using accounts of resistance to colonialism and enslavement as tools to better understand resistance to psychiatry and psychology.
The role of the pharmaceutical industry in shaping the global mental health agenda and the global production, distribution and marketing of drugs.
An exploration of the ethical dimensions of who has the power to set the Global Mental Health agenda.
China teaches on the BA Education, Culture and Childhood; on the MA in Education; and on the EdD programme. She supervises a diverse range of PhD students.
From a young age, China has been an ally of the psychiatric user/survivor movement, and carried out research with the Hearing Voices Network, with young people who hear voices, some of whom had a schizophrenia diagnosis. China used to work on the helpline for the Hearing Voices Network in Manchester, and has facilitated a number of workshops on the approach of the Network in India. Previously, China worked as a research officer at the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI) at the University of Oxford, looking at the intersections between social isolation, stigma and poverty.
China is on the editorial Board for the journals; Disability and the Global South: An International Journal and the Annual Review of Critical Psychology (ARCP)
She is a member of the editorial collective for Asylum – a magazine for democratic psychiatry and is Associate Fellow of The Critical Institute
China is a reviewer for Sociology of Health and Illness; was section editor for the Springer Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology; and is an editorial advisor for the forthcoming Normalcy book series.