Community Psychology’s Gaze

Part of the Peace Psychology Book Series book series (PPBS)


In May, 2010, the government of Jamaica occupied Tivoli Gardens, an inner city community and home of a known drug lord wanted on drug and arms trafficking charges in the USA. Within four days at least 76 civilians had been killed by the state. Three researchers (an anthropologist, a cultural worker, and a critical community psychologist) began an oral history project aimed at producing an historical record of survivors of the atrocity; providing an opportunity for families to honor their dead with dignity potentially contributing to personal, community and national healing; documenting testimonies of community members; and creating an oral memorial for the dead. To date, 26 community members have been interviewed. Their audiovisual recordings form an archive from which a multimedia art installation (Tivoli Stories) and a filmic representation (Four Days in May) are being created to share the community’s stories with a public beyond the academy, one that includes the international human rights community. This strategy is meant to break historical silences about atrocities inflicted against marginalized citizens by the state, thereby reconstructing social memory. Despite this project’s liberatory aims, several limitations arise. In this chapter, I critically reflect on community psychology theory and praxes. I argue that mainstream community psychology’s gaze has turned toward sociogeny at the expense of community psyche and that this reduces it to a project confined to the intersection of the social and the cognitive behavioral of group life. Furthermore, conscientization is seen as an attempt to mobilize and disseminate the effects of oppression that lie on the surface of participants’ knowledge. By turning toward multiple modes of consciousness that include unconscious and semiconscious thought and affect, what is known but not acknowledged may come into fuller view. Working out and working from what has been concealed by utilizing participatory research, oral history and psychosocial analyses of voice may produce modes of consciousness that meaningfully contribute to efforts to transform the social world—critical community psychology’s raison d’être.


Critical community psychology Oral history Multiple modes of consciousness Conscientization 



I wish to thank Catherine Peyroux, Christopher Sonn, Deborah Thomas and Tod Sloan for invaluable feedback they gave me on an earlier version of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyUniversity of East LondonLondonUK

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