Decolonizing Knowledge in Hegemonic Psychological Science

  • Glenn AdamsEmail author
  • Tuğçe Kurtiş
  • Luis Gómez Ordóñez
  • Ludwin E. Molina
  • Ignacio Dobles Oropeza


The authors describe three approaches evident in a collection of papers about “decolonizing psychological science” that they co-edited for the Journal of Social and Political Psychology. In the indigenous resistance approach, psychologists draw upon local knowledge to modify hegemonic practice and to produce psychologies that better resonate with local realities. In the accompaniment approach, global experts from hegemonic centers work alongside inhabitants of marginalized communities in struggles for social justice. In the denaturalization approach, psychologists draw upon local knowledge of marginalized communities to illuminate and resist the epistemic violence inherent in standard forms of hegemonic psychology. Together, these approaches extend consideration beyond the production of local psychologies attuned to the conditions of particular communities and illuminate decolonial versions of global psychology for general application.


Accompaniment Cultural psychology Decolonial theory Denaturalization Indigenous psychology Liberation psychology 


  1. Adams, G., & Salter, P. S. (2007). Health Psychology in African Settings: A Cultural-Psychological Analysis. Journal of Health Psychology, 12, 539–551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adams, G., Dobles, I., Gómez Ordoñez, L., Kurtiş, T., & Molina, L. E. (2015). Decolonizing Psychological Science: Introduction to the Special Thematic Session. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3, 213–238. Scholar
  3. Adams, G., Estrada-Villalta, S., & Gómez Ordoñez, L. (2018). The Modernity/Coloniality of Being: Hegemonic Psychology as Intercultural Relations. International Journal of Intercultural Relations: Special Issue on Colonial Past and Intergroup Relations, 62, 13–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Arnett, J. J. (2008). The Neglected 95%: Why American Psychology Needs to Become Less American. American Psychologist, 63, 602–614.Google Scholar
  5. Barrero, E. (2012). Del Discurso Encantador a la Práxis Liberadora: Psicología de la Liberación. Aportes para la Construcción de una Psicología desde el Sur [From Enchanting Speech to Liberatory Praxis: Liberation Psychology: Contributions toward the Construction of a Psychology from the South]. Bogotá, Colombia: Ediciones Catedra Libre.Google Scholar
  6. Becker, D., & Marecek, J. (2008). Dreaming the American Dream: Individualism and Positive Psychology. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 1767–1780.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bulhan, H. A. (1985). Frantz Fanon and the Psychology of Oppression. New York, NY: Plenum.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bulhan, H. A. (2015). Stages of Colonialism in Africa: From Occupation of Land to Occupation of Being. Journal of Social and Political Psychology: Special Thematic Section on Decolonizing Psychological Science, 3, 239–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Burton, M., & Gómez Ordóñez, L. (2015). Liberation Psychology: Another Kind of Critical Psychology. In I. Parker (Ed.), Handbook of Critical Psychology (pp. 248–255). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Burton, M., & Kagan, C. (2005). Liberation Psychology: Learning from Latin America. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 15, 63–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cole, T. (2012). The White-Savior Industrial Complex. The Atlantic Monthly (online). March 21, 2012.
  12. Comaroff, J., & Comaroff, J. L. (1991). Of Revelation and Revolution, Volume 1: Christianity, Colonialism, and Consciousness in South Africa. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  13. Comaroff, J., & Comaroff, J. L. (2012). Theory from the South: Or, How Euro-America Is Evolving Toward Africa. Anthropological Forum: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Comparative Sociology, 22, 113–131.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Comas-Díaz, L., Lykes, M. B., & Alarcón, R. D. (1998). Ethnic Conflict and the Psychology of Liberation in Guatemala, Perú, and Puerto Rico. American Psychologist, 53, 778–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Connell, R. (2007). Southern Theory: Social Science and the Global Dynamics of Knowledge. Crow’s Nest, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  16. Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K. (Eds.). (1995). Critical Race Theory: The Key Writings that Formed the Movement. New York, NY: The New Press.Google Scholar
  17. David, E. J. R., & Okazaki, S. (2006). Colonial Mentality: A Review and Recommendation for Filipino American Psychology. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 12, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2012). Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (4th ed., pp. 1–19). New York, NY: Sage.Google Scholar
  19. Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2018). Introduction: The Discipline and Practice of Qualitative Research. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research (5th ed., pp. 1–26). New York, NY: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Dobles, I., Baltodano, S., & Zúniga, V. L. (Eds.). (2007). Psicología de la Liberación en el Contexto de la Globalización Neoliberal: Acciones, reflexiones y desafíos [Liberation Psychology in the Context of Neoliberal Globalization: Actions, Thoughts, and Challenges]. San José, Costa Rica: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica.Google Scholar
  21. Dudgeon, P., & Walker, R. (2015). Decolonizing Australian Psychology: Discourses, Strategies, and Practice. Journal of Social and Political Psychology: Special Thematic Section on Decolonizing Psychological Science, 3, 276–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Duran, E., & Duran, B. (1995). Native American Postcolonial Psychology. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  23. Dussel, E. (1972). Teología de la Liberación y Ética. Caminos de Liberación Latinoamericana [Liberation Theology and Ethics: Roads of Latin American Liberation]. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Latinoamérica Libros.Google Scholar
  24. Enriquez, V. G. (1992). From Colonial to Liberation Psychology: The Philippine Experience. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  25. Escobar, A. (2007). Worlds and Knowledges Otherwise: The Latin American Modernity/Coloniality Research Program. Cultural Studies, 21, 179–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Fals Borda, O. (1987). The Application of Participatory Action-Research in Latin America. International Sociology, 2, 329–347.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Fanon, F. (1963). The Wretched of the Earth (C. Farrington, Trans.). New York, NY: Grove Press. (Original work published 1961).Google Scholar
  28. Fanon, F. (1967). Black Skin, White Masks. (C. L. Markmann, Trans.). New York, NY, USA: Pluto Press. (Original work published 1952).Google Scholar
  29. Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum. (Original work published 1970).Google Scholar
  30. Geissler, P. W. (2013). Public Secrets in Public Health: Knowing Not to Know While Making Scientific Knowledge. American Ethnologist, 40, 13–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Grosfoguel, R. (2016). From ‘Economic Extractivism’ to ‘Epistemical Extractivism’ and ‘Ontological Extractivism’: A Destructive Way to Know, Be and Behave in the World. Tabula Rasa, 24, 123–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Gutiérrez, G. (1971). Teología de la liberación. Perspectivas [Liberation Theology: Perspectives]. Salamanca, Spain: Ediciones Sígueme.Google Scholar
  33. Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The Weirdest People in the World? Behavior and Brain Sciences, 33, 61–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kağıtçıbaşı, C. (1995). Is Psychology Relevant to Global Human Development Issues? American Psychologist, 50, 293–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kurtiş, T., & Adams, G. (2015). Decolonizing Liberation: Toward a Transnational Feminist Psychology. Journal of Social and Political Psychology: Special Thematic Section on Decolonizing Psychological Science, 3, 388–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lacerda, F., & Dobles, I. (2015). La Psicología de la Liberación 25 Años después de Martín-Baró: Memoria y Desafíos Actuales. [Liberation Psychology 25 Years after Martín-Baró: Memory and Current Challenges.] Teoría Y Crítica de La Psicología, 6, 1–5. Retrieved from
  37. Lander, E. (Ed.). (2000). La Colonialidad del Saber: Eurocentrismo y Ciencias Sociales. Perspectivas Latinoamericanas [The Coloniality of Knowledge. Eurocentrism and Social Sciences. Latin American Perspectives]. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales. Retrieved from
  38. Lykes, M. B., & Moane, G. (2009). Editors’ Introduction: Whither Feminist Liberation Psychology? Critical Explorations of Feminist and Liberation Psychologies for a Globalizing World”. Feminism & Psychology, 19, 283–297.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Maldonado-Torres, N. (2007). On the Coloniality of Being: Contributions to the Development of a Concept. Cultural Studies, 21, 240–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Martín-Baró, I. (1986). Hacia una Psicología de la Liberación. [Toward a Liberation Psychology.] Boletín de Psicología de El Salvador, 22, 219–231.Google Scholar
  42. Memmi, A. (1965). The Colonizer and the Colonized. New York, NY: Orion Press.Google Scholar
  43. Mignolo, W. D. (2011). The Dark Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mills, C. W. (2007). White Ignorance. In S. Sullivan & N. Tuana (Eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance (pp. 13–38). Albany, NY: SUNY Press.Google Scholar
  45. Montero, M. (2007). The Political Psychology of Liberation: From Politics to Ethics and Back. Political Psychology, 28, 517–533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Montero, M., & Sonn, C. S. (Eds.). (2009). Psychology of Liberation: Theory and Applications. New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  47. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. (1986). Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Nairobi, Kenya: East African Educational Publishers.Google Scholar
  48. Okazaki, S., David, E. J. R., & Abelmann, N. (2008). Colonialism and Psychology of Culture. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 1, 90–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Phillips, N. L., Adams, G., & Salter, P. S. (2015). Beyond Adaptation: Decolonizing Approaches to Coping with Oppression. Journal of Social and Political Psychology: Special Thematic Section on Decolonizing Psychological Science, 3, 365–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. New York, NY: Vintage.Google Scholar
  51. Santos, B. S. (2014). Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers.Google Scholar
  52. Segalo, P., Manoff, E., & Fine, M. (2015). Working with Embroideries and Counter-Maps: Engaging Memory and Imagination Within Decolonizing Frameworks. Journal of Social and Political Psychology: Special Thematic Section on Decolonizing Psychological Science, 3, 342–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Shweder, R. A. (1990). Cultural Psychology: What Is It? In J. W. Stigler, R. A. Shweder, & G. Herdt (Eds.), Cultural Psychology: Essays on Comparative Human Development (pp. 1–43). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Smith, L. T. (1999). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London, UK: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  55. Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the Subaltern Speak? In C. Nelson & L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture (pp. 271–313). Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan Education.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Teo, T. (2010). What Is Epistemological Violence in the Empirical Social Sciences? Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 4, 295–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Tomlinson, B., & Lipsitz, G. (2013). American Studies as Accompaniment. American Quarterly, 65, 1–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Tuck, E., & McKenzie, M. (2014). Place in Research: Theory, Methodology, and Methods. New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Watkins, M. (2015). Psychosocial Accompaniment. Journal of Social and Political Psychology: Special Thematic Section on Decolonizing Psychological Science, 3, 324–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Watkins, M., & Shulman, H. (2008). Toward Psychologies of Liberation. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Glenn Adams
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tuğçe Kurtiş
    • 1
  • Luis Gómez Ordóñez
    • 2
  • Ludwin E. Molina
    • 1
  • Ignacio Dobles Oropeza
    • 3
  1. 1.University of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.National University of Costa RicaHerediaCosta Rica
  3. 3.University of Costa RicaHerediaCosta Rica

Personalised recommendations