The Imposition of Western Psychology as Colonialism – James Moore

The global export of Western psychology—with its centering of Eurocentric concepts and metrics of the self—to the Global South assumes a universal subject that is ego-centric, individualistic, and disconnected from community. New work from Sunil Bhatia and Kumar Priya details how this process of exportation in countries in the Global South, specifically India, is an outgrowth of colonialism and serves to deepen psychic wounds and caste-based violence.

Colonialism refers to the political and economic subordination of a nation or people to another nation. As distinct from colonialism, coloniality refers to the “long-standing patterns of power that emerged as a result of colonialism.” As Bhatia and Priya argue:

“The concept of ‘coloniality’ sheds light on how Euro-American psychology appears as a dominant form of knowledge across the world. One example of this dominance is the export of Euro-American psychological knowledge – personality tests, intelligence testing, performance evaluation tests, and new psychological discourses of self-actualization, peak experiences, mindfulness training, and low that contribute to the ideology of a neoliberal self.”

Western psychology, with its focus on individualism, is born from modernity’s preoccupation with “progress” and the unfolding of the Western self as contained, atomic, and separate from community and history.

While the classical period of colonialism may be over, coloniality is still alive in the knowledge production
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