Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



This dissertation examines how frontline clinicians working with psychiatric patients in Berlin, Germany – both in the community and in the hospital – are often overworked, underpaid, and struggling against the temporal demands of a system that prizes efficiency and efficacy. I theorize how clinicians in this context explore alternative practices dependent on a different kind of accounting: positioning crisis not as a diagnostic rupture that must be rapidly resolved, but rather as contingent, socially embedded trauma that requires continuous and flexible care. These actors understand their work to be marginal and precarious, but their practice demonstrates the valuing of a different psychiatric personhood; one in which crisis is a rupture of possibility, not a deviance to be quelled. Building on feminist critiques of care work as a potentially exploitative situation in which marginal actors are engaged in emotional labor, the dissertation interrogates how precarity can be more complexly understood as the culmination of historical and contemporary ruptures. I argue that by considering "crisis" as a heuristic and set of practices, what seems like precarious labor can mark a meaningful socio-historical claim for participants who are caught up in the work of attending to such ruptures. I theorize the way caring during moments of crisis becomes a reconfiguration of risk; one in which future outcomes are variously anticipated in the present according to divergent views of uncertainty. These encounters must be constantly discerned, negotiated, and revised amid changing social and economic relationships.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Rebecca Lester

Committee Members

John Bowen, Talia Dan-Cohen, Kim Hopper, Joerg Niewoehner,

Available for download on Wednesday, May 15, 2120