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Joseph E. Davis Ph.D.


Joseph E. Davis is Research Professor of Sociology and Chair of the Picturing the Human working group of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. His research explores the intersecting questions of self, morality, and cultural change. In writing on medicine, psychiatry, and public health, he has examined trauma psychology, narratives of suffering, the rise of biological explanations of mental life, medicalization, psychoactive drug use, and the cultural dreams of technological mastery.

His new book is Chemically Imbalanced: Everyday Suffering, Medication, and our Troubled Quest for Self-Mastery (Chicago, 2020).

He is also the author of Accounts of Innocence: Sexual Abuse, Trauma, and the Self (Chicago), editor of Identity and Social Change (Transaction) and Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements (SUNY). He is co-editor (with Ana Marta González) of To Fix or to Heal: Patient Care, Public Health, and the Limits of Biomedicine (NYU), and (with Paul Scherz) of The Evening of Life: The Challenges of Aging and Dying Well (Notre Dame). He recently coedited a special number of the journal Social Research (Winter 2019) on Persons without Qualities: Algorithms, AI, and the Reshaping of Ourselves.

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