Race, Racism, and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History

Race, Racism, and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History

Race, Racism, and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History

Race, Racism, and Psychology: Towards a Reflexive History

Synopsis

Graham Richards takes a historical look at how the concepts of 'race' and 'racism' emerged within the discipline and charts the underlying premises of some famous studies in their social and political contexts.

Excerpt

Writing a concise historical review of Psychology's involvements with 'race' and racism seemed a simple enough proposition when I embarked on this project in 1992. This optimism soon proved misplaced. The topic evidently required far more comprehensive coverage if any sense was to be made of it. As will become apparent, the existing secondary literature was inadequate on several counts and its usual portrayal of Psychology as an inveterately racist discipline was something of a caricature. It also often failed to explore the historically situated nature of racial 'knowledge' or the reflexive dimensions of the issue, both ideas which authors otherwise seemed to endorse. The present work is not intended as a defence of the discipline, but does attempt to take these into account. Some important gaps remain nonetheless, notably that I have largely ignored the French (excepting Lévy-Bruhl) and Italian fascist literature, while the German coverage is avowedly sketchy and introductory. Coverage of the rise of Black Psychology is far briefer than the topic deserves and I have also had to set aside a surprisingly substantial corpus of pre-World War II Chinese and Japanese work. There is thus much left to do.

I have been greatly assisted, and my morale sustained, by a host of colleagues, friends, correspondents and second-hand book dealers (these not being mutually exclusive categories!). They include Colin Berry, Ian Bild, Clare Crellin, Mrs Thomas Garth, Howard Gruber, Karen Henwood, Anita Herle, Dennis Howitt, Sabrina Izzard, Nadine Jackson, Eric Korn, Henrika Kuklick, Sandie Lovie, Nancy E. Mann (of the University of Denver Library), Harriet Marshall, Jerry Martin, Mary and Geoff Midgley, Jim Munves, Ann Phoenix, Marian Pitts, Martin Roiser, Barbara Ross, Simon Schaffer, Bernard Spilka, William H. Tucker, Mark Westwood, Anthony Whittaker, Robert Wozniak and Alexandra Yardley. Any omissions from this list are quite inadvertent. The libraries used were primarily the British Library, the University of London Library at Senate House, Cambridge University Library, the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine Library and Staffordshire University Library, whose various staffs continue striving to meet our needs with goodwill despite the forces of demoralisation. It would have been impossible to complete this work without substantial funding from the Renaissance Trust, for which I will be ever grateful. Then there

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