UCT launches Hub for Decolonial Feminist Psychologies in Africa

UCT launches Hub for Decolonial Feminist Psychologies in Africa

11 Apr 2018 - 14:45

Speakers at the launch included the UCT Vice-Chancellor elect, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng and Professor Kopano Ratele from the Institute for Social and Health Sciences at UNISA and the South African Medical Research Council, who will deliver the keynote address.

The Hub has been established to create an intellectual space that embraces a decolonial and feminist agenda for psychological research in South Africa, Africa, and the diaspora. Student participation and ownership will be central to the Hub, and postgraduate students have already started taking ownership of the stage by leading and initiating some of the dialogues.

The Hub is led by Associate Professor Floretta Boonzaier and Dr Shose Kessi, both from the Department of Psychology at UCT.
The aim of the Hub is to provide a transdisciplinary space for research and activism, including conversations and dialogues, as its researchers interrogate various research problems in four areas of interest -  Intersectional Identities and Oppressions; Social movements, leadership and activisms; Institutional cultures and spatial justice; Transgenerational Trauma; and Reparations and reconciliation.

“The Hub will offer a space that opens up conversations about, and research on the intersections between race, class and gender as they manifest in areas such as gendered and sexual violence against women; men and masculinities; racialised violence at schools and in various contexts; homophobic violence; disability, migration and the extreme violence of poverty and dehumanisation”, says Boonzaier.  

The body of research that will be undertaken through the Hub will cover questions of institutional racism, identity-related impact of land dispossession, as well as contemporary forms of urbanisation and gentrification.  

“Using a decolonial feminist psychological lens into social movements, leadership and activism can contribute to new understandings of political behaviour beyond conservative/traditional psychological research on conformity, minority, influence, and crowd behaviour”, says Dr Shose Kessi, co-leader of the project.

Transgenerational trauma as an area of research is particularly important for the country.

“The issue of transgenerational trauma is central to thinking through the high levels of violence in South Africa and the impact of the epistemic violences enacted on generations of people”, says Kessi.

“We will interrogate what the implications of these traumatic histories mean for understanding contemporary identities and conditions – especially for understanding high levels of gendered and other forms of violence.”

The Hub will also interrogate whether reconciliation and/or reparations can address the psychological wounds of apartheid and slavery
The launch was conducted through a series of events. First, Dr Parfait D. Akana, the Executive Director of The Muntu Institute, presented a seminar on Incest as a non-place: anthropology and clinic of silence on Tuesday, 10 April 2018. This seminar was followed by the actual launch event which took place the day after.

The launch week ended with a dialogue on the ethics and politics of research lead by Dr Kessi and A/Prof Boonzaier.
Both Boonzaier’s and Kessi’s works cover issues of gender-based violence and racialised violence in different contexts, the stigmatisation and oppression of poor and working-class communities, and methodologies that promote the participation and collective action of marginalised groups.

“We have long been involved in work that explores and disrupts political processes of psychological inferiorisation and control”, says Boonzaier.