Critical psychology in the Arab world

Insights from critical community psychology in the Palestinian colonial context

Authored by: Ibrahim Makkawi

Handbook of Critical Psychology

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9781848722187
eBook ISBN: 9781315726526
Adobe ISBN: 9781317537182


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The main argument of this chapter is informed by the realization that, despite its significance as a critical alternative to colonial psychology, out of all branches of academic Western mainstream psychology taught in Arab and Palestinian universities, community psychology as a sub-discipline is noticeably marginalized and under-recognized. Community psychology has a formative quality and the potential to make contributions to the emancipation and liberation of marginalized communities, as opposed to many problematic forms of historical and contemporary enactments of mainstream colonial psychology in the Arab World (Makkawi 2009; Soueif and Ahmed 2001). Following a historical trend in postcolonial situations, universities in the Arab World continue to import and uncritically apply Western constructions of knowledge, including psychology, and the intellectual legacy of European colonialism continues to dominate these academic institutions (Abouchedid 2006). This intellectual hegemony of colonial knowledge in Arab universities renders the enactment of critical psychology in general and community psychology in particular – both in academe and in community settings – a challenging undertaking. In this chapter, I draw upon an emerging program of critical community psychology at Birzeit University in Palestine, arguing that envisioning critical psychology in the Arab World in general is better conceived through critical community psychology as an emerging alternative to colonial psychology.

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