Katrin Hoffmann

Thesis title:

Resilience on the individual and community level in the face of adversity – an ethnographic approach to shed light on current controversies around PTSD and culture


There is a controversy around PTSD across cultures (e.g. Gilmoor et al., 2019). Many studies within GMH have focused on disorder and pathology (e.g. Ng et al., 2019), with little attention given to the resilience of populations. Recent WHO initiatives to support self-help and resilience in the face of adversity (e.g. Epping-Jordan et al., 2016) seem promising (e.g. Tol et al., 2020). However, changes are small and tend to diminish over times. More contextual research is needed to explore how resilience and coping of individuals and communities may be harnessed, which, in turn, has potential to inform the new wave of psychosocial interventions in GMH. Most research on trauma has been conducted in humanitarian settings (e.g. Jordans et al., 2012). However, there is high exposure to traumatic events in non-humanitarian settings in LMICs: preliminary findings of the multi- country KCL-led ASSET project suggest high exposure to traumatic events (personal communication, Charlotte Hanlon). As results have indicated relatively low levels of PTSD (4.4%), a deeper understanding of response to trauma in LMICs is needed (Hanlon & Jordans, 2020). My proposed PhD project will build on the findings of the ASSET project. Ethnographic methodology will be used to explain low trauma symptoms despite high exposure. A more in-depth understanding of resilience of individuals and communities is expected to improve the design of psychosocial interventions that produce culturally meaningful outcomes.

First supervisor:

Dr Charlotte Hanlon


2 – Life Course, Psychology, & Health