BME psychology

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Psychology: A history of racism

Psychology has a racist history. There ar examples: how the British Psychological Society’s early presidents had explicit ties to the eugenics movement. Or how Black civil rights activists were forcibly incarcerated under the pretense they were schizophrenic and “paronoid against the police” (Metzl, 2011). Or how intelligence research by psychologists was originally used to show Black people and immigrants should not have the same legal, political or social rights as more intelligent whites (see Phillippe Rushton’s work published in 1990 by The Psychologist).

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Psychology’s racism today
Those of us in psychology today must be careful not to relegate our discipline’s racism to the past. Psychology still has a problem with racism. The people we include in our research, the authors and editors of journal articles we set are overwhelmingly White (Arnett, 2008; Heinrich, 2010).

Our reading that we set also tends to be overwhelming white, western and male (Jankowski et al., in prep). The problems with this should be obvious. With this reading, we’re overlooking BME psychologist’s work, we’re teaching content that is less likely to show how racism relates to health, development or our social world (or any of the stuff psychology professes to explain) and more simply we are not teaching the psychology of people but the psychology of white, western (and often male) people.

The ethnicity of the authors of the reading we set in our courses is only one proxy for racism in our discpline. Tokenistically including a reading because it is authored by a BME psychologist in our course is not enough. Our teaching of psychology needs to incorporate racism and its intersecting opressions into the curriculum that we teach. We will never be able to explain how people stay healthy or how a child develops or how mental health problems are caused without attending to structural oppressions like racism.

The BME Psychology website

Myself and other Leeds Beckett colleagues have therefore set up a website signposting to BME psychological and anti-racist work. We know this is only one small step towards reducing racism in and beyond our discipline. And so we need help. If you know any of the many BME psychologists we have doubtlessly missed, please add them to our archive. If you are willing to share anti-racist teaching materials or would like to use them then please do.

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1 day left to submit oral presentations for ISCHP17

Tomorrow, 10th March 2017, is the final day for submitting your abstracts for oral presentation formats for our conference – ISCHP 2017 in Loughborough.

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Image credit: statistically-funny.blogspot.co.uk

You can select from a range of oral presentation formats – pecha kucha (20 visual slides), 5-minute challenge presentations, or the classic oral presentation (10 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions). Symposia of three or four talks are also still open. Abstracts for these oral presentation formats are all due by the end of this Friday (10th March) UK time. Abstracts must be submitted using the forms available at http://ischp2017.weebly.com/oral-presentations.html and sent by email to the conference email address (ISCHP2017@lboro.ac.uk). Abstracts must be a maximum of 250 words with no subheadings or references.

 

Only ePoster abstracts will be accepted after 10th March (until the final poster abstract deadline of 1st April). Posters will be displayed throughout the conference and are a great opportunity to bring along work you’ve been involved with if your collaborators cannot attend, or for students to attend with late-breaking research.

Registration is open at http://ischp2017.weebly.com/registration.html (early bird deadline: 30th April 2017).

6 reasons why we have an International Women’s Day

~Glen Jankowski
As critical psychologists, we need to be critical of sexism. Days like International Working Women’s Day remind us of the importance of feminism. Here’s 6 other reasons why we need International Women’s Day.
@EmmaKennedy

1) Because men are assumed to be default persons. This ‘Male as default’ assumption can be seen in the above where Judi Dench and J K Rowling only count as ‘women’ but Ricky Gervais and Ian McEwan get to be ‘author’s’ and ‘comedians’ Source: @ Emma Kennedy
More examples here:

gender flipping

2) Because of how sexist popular representations of women are. Including in video games and comics. This Gender Flipping example shows us how male superheroes would look like if they were treated like female superheroes Source: http://junkee.com/flip-it-and-reverse-it-how-to-fight-the-gender-wars/15081

mansplaining
3) Because lots of research shows men are more likely to interrupt, patronize and ignore women in everyday conversations. And yes this happens in academia. The above image shows mansplaining on Twitter where a man corrects a woman on an article that she wrote.  Continue reading

Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMiP) conference – a safe space for qual researchers (immediately before ISCHP 2017!)

By Sarah Riley, QMiP 2017 Conference Chair (edited by Gareth Treharne)

Details of conference: https://www.bps.org.uk/events/conferences/qualitative-methods-psychology-section-bi-annual-conference-2017

“Conferences are liturgical celebrations, affirmations of solidarity, symbolic spaces for those who speak a language (whether socialism or orthodontics) unintelligible to most of their fellow-humans, and who therefore need from time to time to relax with those of their own kind, as a cross-dresser might feel the gathering urge to withdraw from the world of the bank or bakery and ease into a pair of corsets” Terry Eagleton The Gatekeeper

Being amongst kind is important for all academics. But when it came to organising the British Psychology Society’s Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMiP) conference in 2017 this need felt particularly salient. To this end, QMiP’s aims have been to provide a safe space as well as an exciting space.

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‘Autism has never caused me any pain – but the stigma has’: Interview with Julie Dachez

~By Andrea LaMarre alamarre@uoguelph.ca

This blog post takes the form of an interview with recent social psychology PhD graduate, Julie Dachez. Julie was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of 27 and has been an activist ever since. She has just earned a doctoral degree in Social Psychology (“Another way of looking at autism: a psychosocial approach”). She is the author of the blog emoiemoietmoi.over-blog.com and of the graphic novel “La différence invisible”. She holds conferences all around France about autism and the pathologising of difference and has recently been named personality of the year by a french newspaper. Andrea interviewed Julie by email over the course of December about the experience of doing critical research on Aspergers in an environment not always open to critical perspectives.

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Image from The Medical Model of Disability: http://ddsg.org.uk/taxi/medical-model.html

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ProfFile: Wendy Stainton-Rogers

This is the third in our new series ProfFile: informal interviews with leading or under recognized critical health psychologists. This month’s ProfFile is with Professor Wendy Stainton-Rogers, who is based in Yorkshire, UK.  A key organizer of ISCHP, Wendy has blazed a trail for many of us working in critical health, social and feminist psychology. For previous ProfFiles see here and here

Wendy
Wendy at the Psychology of Women Section Conference, UK, July 2016. Image credit: Dee Lister. For more pics that Dee took at the POWS conference see her Flickr page

What is your current position?

I’m now retired but still a ‘Professor Emerita’ at the Open University in the UK. However, it’s rather more complicated than that.

Less than a month after my retirement in September 2011 I had to have a biopsy to see if I had developed cancer. This small procedure went catastrophically wrong and I was very ill for several years with the aftermath. As I write, five years later, yes I do have cancer, but not the aggressive one first diagnosed. It affects me but I am much recovered from what happened (more surgical catastrophes and two periods of acute starvation). Over this time I had most of my gut removed (hence the malnutrition). So these days I am IV fed by tube, pumped in for 11 hours overnight. I can’t eat at all, but can cook, so all is not lost.

It was what you might call a severe case of participant-observer experience! I have been encouraged to write about it, and maybe I will, given time. In sociological terms,  these days I’m a bit of a cyborg with a tube sticking out of me and have a Klingon carapace stuck on my abdomen, so I do see myself as very alien and disfigured.  Becoming disabled has been a truly salutary experience. I am out of a wheelchair now but have an intimate knowledge of the bowels of Leeds Beckett university’s (in Leeds, UK) rather laberynthine arrangements for access.

The good news is that I am getting better and now active academically once again. This year I’ve been to some seminars and the British Psychological Society’s Psychology of Women Section (POWS) conference, and am currently working hard on editing the second edition of the Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology, together with Carla Willig. I’m keenly looking forward to attending the ISCHP conference in 2017, and even thinking of making some kind of contribution.

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Taking stock: Gearing up for ISCHP 2017

~Glen Jankowski, site co-editor

Being critical in a neoliberal discipline can often feel exhausting. We’re fighting an uphill battle and it can seem like little progress has been made, especially when we look at how long we’ve been fighting it.

Go back to 1987 for instance when the gods of discourse analysis, Jonathon Potter and Margaret Wetherell (1987, p. 174) tried to address the need to get out of the ivory tower in psychology in their book on discourse analysis:

We feel that researchers should pay considerably more attention to the practical use of their work over and above the amassing of research findings and the furtherance of careers…the image of a benign body of practitioners waiting to read the journals of pure scientists and put research findings into practice is heartwarming but unrealistic”.

discourse

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Critical texts for those new to critical psychology

~Britta Wigginton (b.wigginton@uq.edu.au)

The field of critical psychology can seem overwhelming.

I speak from personal experience. I completed my PhD in a department that was entirely positivist (‘scientific’), with the exception of my supervisor who encouraged me, despite being in the first month of my PhD, to attend the 2011 ISCHP conference in Adelaide. For me, critical psychology has been as much a professional as it has a personal (re)education into the world.

critical psychology reading list

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To the CritiSphere and Back Again: What does it even mean to be critical?

Something I struggle with is feeling like I’m not a ‘good enough’ critical researcher. I am constantly amazed and taught by amazing friends and peers that just seem to get what it means to be critical – they can integrate neoliberal or constructionist theory effortlessly and seamlessly into a conversation. I do okay if I’m in the ‘academic brain space’, but when it comes to casually referencing critical psychology in my day-to-day life, I find it a struggle. It usually goes something like this:

Me: (Sarcastically) Well, better get that cancer screening done so you can continue being a good neoliberal citizen.

Other: Why is that neoliberalism and not just plain sensible? I think you’re being a bit dramatic here.

Me: Uh, because if you don’t get the screening, you can be constructed as being to blame if you get cancer…I think…

Convincing, right? And that’s just within the health sphere.


Image: Imgur

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Grant Shopping

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Guest post from Danielle Ferndale who completed her PhD through the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland recently. Her work focuses on the area of critical health psychology and her main interests are deafness and hearing loss, qualitative methods and privilege (and oppression). Contact her at @deafresearchau  Email: dferndale@gmail.com

Recently I was in a meeting talking about grants, and needing to find grant money to fund a follow-up project to the one we were currently working on. Except that’s not really how the discussion played out. Essentially, it became about identifying where the money’s at – e.g. breast cancer, diabetes etc. and how we can make the follow-up project suit the agenda of these funding bodies. This discussion went so far as to say, that while less prevalent diseases (or lesser known) or certain minority groups of people were fascinating, that’s not where the money is at.  This is not the first time I’ve had this experience.

Logically, I understand that in order for any research to get done it needs money. And the people with the money want certain topics (or certain answers) or types of research to be explored. So naturally, we make compromises on the population we’re interested in, the methodology, little parts of our soul etc. to accommodate the focus of particular grants. I also understand, on a human level, researchers need an income in order to purchase food, afford healthcare, etc.

However, on a principle level, I find it problematic that funding bodies dictate what topics/types of research are interesting, valuable and fund worthy. Less attractive areas of research, projects with “difficult” interventions or projects with “not-readily-quantifiable” outcomes (e.g., mental health), fall by the wayside. The funding system as I understand it, and I’m a relatively new player in the game of academia, privileges certain types of knowledge over others.

 

Image credit: www.phdcomics.com

As a newby in the game of academia and grants, I’m figuring out how to forge a career within which I can do “good” research, that doesn’t compromise the values of my population of interest, my principles (which I hold dear) but will also still be fundable and publishable. And I see a few options:

  1. Quit academia and pick one of the many back-up careers I have identified (e.g. driving instructor, movie critic)
  2. Suck it up and play the game by the current rules (pick ‘sexy’ research and adapt it to the trends, agenda of others) AKA, sell my soul
  3. Learn how to sell my research or mask it so that it is appealing to funding bodies – only selling part of my soul, the part that was evil anyway.
  4. Start a cult whereby, with likeminded individuals, we adopt the ideals of ‘the slow scholarship movement’ (Mountz et al., 2015)
  5. Change the system from within, also implementing the ideals of ‘the slow scholarship movement’

However, I am yet to figure out, how does one change the system – what does this look like? Where do I need to go to see this in action? Who can I look up to and learn from? Is it possible for an early career researcher to survive within the system while at the same time changing it? I think it is imperative that discussions on this topic continue, not just within the ‘critical bubble’ but in mainstream contexts.