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Lioba Lenhart

Dr. Lioba Lenhart is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies (IPSS) of Gulu University, Uganda. She holds a PhD and a Master Degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the University of Cologne, Germany.

Before she joined Gulu University, she taught at the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne (Germany) for ten years and the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, European Network on Humanitarian Assistance (NOHA) Programme, Ruhr-University Bochum (Germany) for four years. She carried out long-term ethnographic field research in Malaysia, Indonesia and Uganda, edited several journal volumes and published two books and numerous articles. She has also worked as a trainer and consultant in the field of crisis prevention, conflict transformation and peace building in Germany, Indonesia and Uganda. Her current research interests include: culture as a source of conflict and resource for conflict transformation and peace building; transitional justice; conflicts over land and natural resources with a focus on conservation conflicts; environmental justice; migration and forced displacement; and mental health in post-conflict situations.

The title of her research project in the context of IMAGENU is “Mental health, gender and partnerships in northern Uganda: realities, expectations and hopes”.

The project will look at gender and partnerships of people who are facing mental health challenges in northern Uganda – an area where the rate of mental illness is among the highest worldwide. People suffer from PTSD, anxiety disorder, depression, bipolar affective disorder, or schizophrenia. Substance abuse and alcoholism are widespread. There is also a high suicide rate, particularly among young people. All this has been attributed to prolonged experience of war and life in camps for internally displaced people, continuous poverty in the post-war era, and lack of future prospects.

The research topic will be approached from a social science perspective, not biomedical perspective. The researcher intends to establish sex and gender differences and risk and protective factors for both women and men – a widely neglected area in mental health research; the various ways of interpreting and treating mental illness; and society’s dealing with the mentally ill. A special focus will be put on possible interactions between mentally ill health status, partnerships and imaginations of gender futures, including mental health challenges that lead to a single life of the affected person; mental health issues that affect the relationship between a couple; and problems in partnerships that lead to mental health challenges. Another focus of research will be the effects of mental health challenges on the parents, children and caregivers of mentally ill people; and how caregiving is conceptualized, with special consideration of gender.