Dutta, U. (Forthcoming). Decolonizing “community” in community psychology. Accepted for publication in American Journal of Community Psychology.
This article endeavors to craft pathways that disrupt dominant modes of knowledge production and imagine nonhierarchical epistemic possibilities in teaching community psychology. The first section of the article discusses how the decolonial turn inspires new ways of advancing the critical social justice agenda of community psychology. Drawing upon decolonial frameworks and allied critical theories, I outline how coloniality is entrenched in the ways we theorize, research, and teach about “communities”—and the importance of decolonizing the construct of communityin community psychology. The second section presents three vignettes capturing student responses to endeavors in the classroom to dismantle notions of community-as-Other. I interpret these vignettes through a decolonial perspective in order to highlight how coloniality of community can be produced and potentially maintained in the classroom context. The third section outlines some pedagogical and curricular recommendations as a possible pathway toward decolonizing notions of community. I conclude with some questions/provocations geared toward advancing decolonial and liberatory praxis in community psychology.
Sonn, C.C., Arcidiacono, C., Dutta, U., Kiguwa, P., Kloos, B., & Maldonado-Torres, N. (2017). Beyond disciplinary boundaries: Speaking back to critical knowledges, liberation and community. Accepted for publication in South African Journal of Psychology, Vol. 47(4), 448-458.
This article explores critical directions for forging new disciplinary traditions within community psychology, as discussed by a panel at the conclusion of the 6th International Conference on Community Psychology (ICCP 2016). The conference itself was constructed as an enactment of a decolonizing approach, looking at the entire globalized system from the African continent and centring knowledges produced by Africans and the diaspora. Several panellists were invited to offer their reflections on the emerging discussions, and absences or silences they observed at the conference, as well as how community research and action can develop a research and teaching programme that is liberatory. Panellists’ comments pointed to the importance of the decolonization project globally and the implications of decoloniality for community research and action. The challenge for community research and action is to build alliances and networks across space and time, and with various social movements. The discipline needs to centre and draw out the voices of those who have been excluded, to retrieve and reclaim ways of knowing, being, and doing because these are key to tackling the coloniality of power and to forging new ways of doing ethical and just community research and action.
Dutta, U. (2017). The everyday and the exceptional: Rethinking gendered violence and human rights in Garo Hills, India. In Grabe (Ed.)Women’s Human Rights: A Social Psychological Perspective on Resistance, Liberation, and Justice. (pp. 179-204). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
In this chapter, I make a case for reconceptualizing human rights “from below” by grounding human rights discourses in women’s particularities and their voices rather than prescriptive policy standards. In making this argument, I bring together feminist perspectives grounded in decoloniality and liberation psychology. I present findings from my activist scholarship in Northeast India to offer a critical feminist analysis of civil society’s (non)response to gender-based violence and counter-narratives of Garo women protagonists who explain these (non)responses. Following Garo women protagonists in their understanding of violence illuminates the fundamental heterogeneity of violence against women as well as underlying cultural institutional and structural processes. By moving between situated narrative and wider analysis, this chapter explicates the connections between “exceptional” violence and pervasive violations of women’s human rights. The research, action, and policy implications for feminist psychologists engaged in human rights scholarship are discussed.
Dutta, U. & Aber, M.S (2017). Enacted cultural critique: Examining everyday violence in Garo Hills. Journal for Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 45(1), 19-31.
This paper is a critical ethnographic illustration of community psychology praxis as enacted cultural critique. Praxis refers to the amalgamation of theory and sociopolitical action. Although it is important to appreciate and attend to cultural norms, there are many contexts where existing norms serve to marginalize communities. Community psychology praxis then involves cultural critique so as to challenge, subvert, resist, and transform disempowering cultural constructions. Drawing from a youth participatory action research initiative in the Garo Hills region of Northeast India, we examine the implications of community psychology praxis as enacted cultural critique in the context of endemic ethnic conflict. Enacted cultural critique in such a context entails deliberate, self-conscious efforts to interpret or make sense of the existing cultural context and create new ones. This creative activity involves collectively imagining, saying, writing, sculpting, fashioning and/or building new ways of being in and understanding our shared world. Our approach is characterized by an explicit recognition of the political nature of cultural analysis, which represents a significant departure from traditional, apolitical understanding of culture. Using the lens of community psychology praxis also allows for a more agentive view of culture – one that acknowledges that individuals and communities (re)create and (re)write culture through practices of everyday life and social and political mobilization.
Dutta, U. (2017).Creating inclusive identity narratives through participatory action research. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 27 (6), 476–488. DOI: 10.1002/casp.2328.
This paper describes the process and outcomes of Voices, a participatory action research project aimed to disrupt divisive ethnic identity narratives among youth living amidst protracted ethnic conflict. The project took place in the Garo Hills region of Northeast India, a site of protracted ethnic conflict. Moving away from crisis-based approaches, this paper explores the conflict transformative potential of participatory action research, specifically its effectiveness in facilitating civic engagement across ethnic lines. The findings indicate that young people's involvement in the project afforded them an opportunity to engage with local community concerns outside of polarized ethnic identity narratives. This involvement facilitated three critical outcomes: engagement in social critique, reconfiguration of a more inclusive researcher identity, and adoption of a language of possibility. Based these findings, it is argued that opportunities for critical community engagement could interrupt divisive ethnic identity narratives and provide turning points for youth to reimagine inclusive social identities.