Interest Group Decolonizing Psychology

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ICP Interest Group:
Decolonising Psychology & Psychology Decolonising Society

Polli Hagenaars, Naomi Koerner & Élison Santos

We are pleased to tell readers about a new Special Interest Group dedicated to decolonising psychology and examining ways in which a more globally-informed psychology can be a catalyst for decolonising minds and societies. We invite ICP Members to join a safe forum to engage in an open discourse. Members need not be “experts” in the area—any ICP member or student member interested in developing their awareness, knowledge and understanding, and in transforming knowledge into action, is welcome.

Readers may have noticed that we have used the term “decolonising” rather than “decolonisation of.” We consider decolonising a process that actively involves exploring our own awareness and understanding of the influences of colonisation not only on psychology as a discipline and profession, but also on our minds, behaviour and relationships; on indigenous populations; on various institutions and on the environment. It is about taking responsibility and deconstructing and repairing what has gone wrong by colonisation. We have chosen to use the term “decolonising” rather than “decolonisation of” to recognize this process.

Decolonising puts human rights, equity and justice at the core. We see it as a practice that begins with decolonising our ways of thinking and our attitudes. Referencing the seminal ideas of Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), Maldonado-Torres (2017) wrote, “Attitude is key in the decolonial turn and the decoloniality of not only psychology but also knowledge, being, and power more generally.”

Through this interest group on decolonising, we will examine ways in which (unequal) socio-political power structures, now and in the past, have shaped psychology as a discipline and as a profession. We will critically analyse the ways in which theories, knowledge and practices developed in colonial contexts, are re-produced and hinder a more globally-informed exchange among psychologists across international lines. We will explore the continued effects of colonial power structures in the work of psychologists as educators, practitioners, researchers, mentors, administrators, and human beings.

We will consider how to move from knowledge about colonial influences on psychology as a discipline, to ethical decolonial practices and reparative actions, actions psychologists can take to combat and dismantle (post-) colonial influences (structural, institutional, epistemological) inside and outside their discipline and profession, to ensure that the principle of the equal inherent Dignity of each person is upheld (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948).

We plan to send you a formal invitation along with a survey, to learn more about your perspectives and experiences with regard to colonialism and decolonising—we are interested in multiple global perspectives. The upcoming ICP virtual conference (October 22-24, 2021) will include programming on the topic of ‘Decolonising’ as well as a Networking Café wherein attendees can explore the topic further through discussion and exchange.

Feel free to contact us via email. We also have an online discussion forum that ICP members can now join. We invite questions, comments and expressions of interest.

Polli Hagenaars (Netherlands, ICP Director-at-Large):

Naomi Koerner (Canada, ICP Member):

Élison Santos (Brazil, ICP Director-at-Large):




Maldonado-Torres, N. (2017). Frantz Fanon and the decolonial turn in psychology: From modern/colonial methods to the decolonial attitude. South African Journal of Psychology, 47, 432 – 441.