Abigail Mack

Abigail Mack

Abigail Mack

Graduate Student

Email: ajanemack@ucla.edu

Curriculum Vitae

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My research traces the political, ethical, and experiential processes that animate the contemporary carceral systems of mental healthcare practice  in the US.  My dissertation research traces the procedures of involuntary psychiatric commitment from initial emergency evaluation to courtroom hearings where patients may contest their holds in order to understand the intersections of the public healthcare and criminal justice systems here in Los Angeles.  Drawing on 19 months of ethnographic fieldwork across these institutional spaces, the dissertation documents how consequential narratives about patients steadily build over time, mediated by bureaucratic formwork, institutional affects and popular political sentiments about the scope and limitations of  public mental healthcare and the criminal justice system.

In addition to documenting the outcomes and consequences of the current intersections of public mental health and criminal justice in the US, my work highlights moments and spaces of care that  unsettle the political status quo and provide alternative forms of caring for and responding to people in mental health crises.

Fields of Study

Psychological and Medical Anthropology, Linguistic Anthropology


Involuntary mental healthcare; mental health law; psychiatry; patient's rights; public health; criminal justice; morality/ethics; political economy; narrative theory; critical race and disability studies


Refereed Journal Articles

2019 “On Anticipatory Accounts: Adjudicating Moral Being and Becoming in the  Los Angeles Mental Health Court.” The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology. Special Issue on “Experiencing Anticipation,” Devin Flaherty and Christopher Stephan, eds. 37(1): 93-107

2016 Book Review: “The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality Mirzoeff, Nicholas. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011.” American Anthropologist. 118 (3):408


Book Chapters

Forthcoming:  Mack, A. and C. J. Throop, “Suffering and Sympathy” In The Cambridge Handbook of the Anthropology of Ethics. James Laidlaw (ed).



B.A. English Literature and Composition & "Narrative and Ethnographic Technique" (Individualized), Indiana University, 2009

M.A. Communication and Culture, Indiana University, 2013