Toward a decolonial Africa-centering ecological and social psychology

Suffla, Shahnaaz; Ratele, Kopano; Adams, Glenn; Reddy, Geetha and Malherbe, Nick (2023). Toward a decolonial Africa-centering ecological and social psychology. Current Research in Ecological and Social Psychology, 5, article no. 100156.



As collaborators on projects with epistemic foundations in the diverse everyday realities of different African settings, we respect and endorse the goal of the special issue (SI) to expand “psychological science to include the Middle East and Africa.” In this Short Communications article, we draw on a central insight of Africa-centering perspectives—namely, a healthy vigilance about the coloniality of knowledge in hegemonic whitestream science—to engage the goal of the SI via a critical reading of its call for papers around a contrast between imperialist and decolonial forms of inclusion. Although inclusion of research in African settings addresses issues of epistemic exclusion, imperialist forms of inclusion that assimilate African cases to whitestream science can reproduce forms of epistemic extractivism, epistemic imposition, and epistemological violence. In contrast, decolonial forms of inclusion draw on African epistemic resources to denaturalize accounts of the modern present that researchers represent, typically without reference to the coloniality that constitutes modernity, as something akin to natural facts. Rather than assimilate African cases to whitestream science, the goal of decolonial inclusion is an ecological and social psychology that takes African experience—and especially unflinching awareness of the coloniality of modernity—as an epistemic foundation for a global science.

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