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The Dignity Initiative

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I direct an interdisciplinary research project which responds to the recent imperatives to better understand the notion of dignity and the social contexts in which an individual's dignity can be actualized or painfully ruptured. The requirement to protect dignity is limited without a clear definition of what exactly it is. In spite of the fact that it is a grounding concept underpinning international human rights theory, dignity is a complex, multifaceted and highly contested concept. The Dignity Initiative comprises a multidisciplinary team comprising philosophers, anthropologists, neuroscientists, epidemiologists collaborating across multiple universities, as well as experts in international development and gender at UNICEF which serves to examine the institutional, social, material and psychological contexts that enable the enactment and experience of dignity. The research team pays close attention to feminist and culturally appropriate conceptualisations of dignity, its relation to inequality in various geographical, economic and cultural settings, and explores the question of how dignity may be measured. The project is centered at McGill University, Montreal, and funded by the Foundation for Psychocultural Research in Los Angeles and collaborates closely with UNICEF. Unicef Innocenti. McGill’s participating offices include the Division of Social & Transcultural Psychiatry, the Institute for Health & Social Policy (IHSP), and School of Population & Global Health (SPGH).

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