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WFU Center for Global Programs & Studies

Join Wake Forest University and INSTEP for an exciting spring lecture series focusing on UK economic or political topics.

Mental health and addiction| How is homelessness connected to mental health? Reviewing literature in the field and enriching it again with my own ethnography, I will in the core part of this lecture think through both how mental health is a factor in making people homeless as well as aggravated by the street experience. The question of mental health is connected to the one on drugs. Presenting an alternative narrative, I want to think about drugs as part of ‘making a better life’ on the street. While substances can originally (feel like) helping homeless people to take control over – particularly – their thoughts and minds, they often contribute to their problems longer term.

Risk and harm reduction| Looking closer at the first French safe injection facility at the Gare du Nord I will ask: what is risk reduction and why is it (likely) a better kind of (society-level) care than criminalisation and imprisonment? Thinking about the specific dimension of time, I will reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of safe injection facilities (and other kinds of harm reduction measures) for people addicted to opiates and contrast it to the situation in (most parts of) the US. This will also allow me to bring the students’ attention to bigger societal issues and connections between the opiate crisis, poverty and the (racial) problems with the war on drugs.

The lecture will be held via Zoom. Login information will be sent to all participants 60 minutes prior to the start of the lecture. Registration for the event will close 10 minutes prior to the beginning of the lecture.

For the full lineup of lectures in this series, visit

Speaker Bio:

Johannes Lenhard is an ethnographer of venture capital and homelessness and currently the Centre Coordinator of the Max Planck Centre Cambridge for the Study of Ethics, the Economy and Social Change. Having worked towards a better understanding of survival practices of homeless people in London and Paris for his PhD, he has in 2017 started a new research project on the ethics of venture capital investors. He is currently preparing the publication of his dissertation monograph as well as finalising a book on diversity and inclusion in VC and tech. His writing has appeared in academic peer-reviewed journals (e.g. City and Society, Housing Studies) as well as journalistic outlets, such as Techcrunch, Prospect, Sifted, Aeon, the Conversation and Crunchbase. Find his Twitter @JFLenhard.

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