Session 7A: Decoloniality in Praxis: Towards Reflexive Healing Methodologies

Session 7A

Decoloniality in Praxis: Towards Reflexive Healing Methodologies
4.22.2017 | 3:20p-4:35p | Laurel Hall 106

Looking at the intersections of healing and praxis, this session aims to provide theoretical directions in therapeutic care and social justice. This talk stems from approaches that hold racism, inequality, and understanding of nuanced cultural identities at the crux of their work.

Dawn-Marie Luna (Clinical Psychology-Latinx Studies; Pepperdine University)
Free your mind and the soul will follow:
Consejos from one marriage and family therapist trainee to the next

The purpose of this paper is to explore the intersections of social creativity, liberation psychology, borderland epistemology and narrative therapy in an attempt to develop a comprehensive understanding of what social justice and social advocacy mean to the practice of counseling, how one identifies privilege, and the importance of practicing from a decolonial standpoint. Borderland thinking addresses our right to self-representation as individuals and as a collective. Self-representation is about both the development of a personal identity and a professional identity (Hernadez-Wolfe, 2011). Situating oneself politically informs how one practices therapeutically. The author argues, trainees must practice from an intersectional/borderland, liberatory psychological perspective. Because current traditional mental health practices oppresses Afro-Latinx communities keeping them at the margins to accessing mental health services. In order to increase mental health services we must shift how we think about intervening and healing our communities. Our current political climate is a world full of hatred, oppression, and the growing “plague” of the contagious, communicable diseases of poverty, sexism, racism, and war (Alsup, 2009). Moreover, in this paper the author examines her intersecting identities, and her process toward grounding herself in social creativity, liberation psychology, borderland epistemology and narrative therapy. It is the hopes of the author that people will leave with new ways to think about how to congruently heal and liberate Afro-Latinx communities.


Sheena Sood (Sociology; Temple University)
Cultivating a Yogic Theology of Collective Healing: A Yogini’s Journey Disrupting White Supremacy, Hindu Fundamentalism, and Casteism

This paper explores what cultivating a yogic theology of collective liberation can look like, both by acknowledging the harm done through the misappropriation of yoga and also by grounding into values of radical healing that allow our communities to use the practice to help us move through trauma. For hundreds of years, yoga has been appropriated both by colonizers, white supremacist cultures, Hindu fundamentalists, and spiritually-driven humanitarian organizations. As a South Asian femme with Hindu roots and a commitment to political activism, my journey with yoga has been simultaneously complicated and life-affirming. Although my initial experience practicing yoga with organized religious and spiritual groups affirmed a healing space for my brown body at a time when I was just beginning to question the effects of white supremacy and colonization on my assimilated mind, the Hindu leaders in these groups also introduced me to its Islamophobic, casteist and nationalist dimensions of the practice. I came to see how spiritual practices, when taught by groups with fundamentalist and nationalist agendas, can be used as a tool to strengthen oppressors while further subjugating marginalized communities.
Although I believe the core elements of yoga philosophy are grounded in justice and liberation for humanity, such yogic principles are often misappropriated toward agendas that strengthen oppressors while perpetuating the dehumanization, oppression and social inequality of communities on the margins. Much of this is due to the legacies of colonization, capitalism, commodification, Brahmanical casteism, white supremacy and religious nationalism. Accordingly, individuals continue to experience yoga in violently oppressive ways. While I agree that social justice yogis have a duty to disrupt the whitewashing of yoga through neo-liberal colonizing efforts, we must go beyond condemning western cultural appropriation. If we wish to offer yoga as a tool for healing our communities and building resilience and fueling resistance in our movements, we must also acknowledge yoga’s oppressive history by South Asian Hindu elites. Our social movement communities are already incorporating yoga into their healing justice models of collective care. Accordingly, it’s imperative that we struggle to cultivate a radical tradition of yogic theology—a philosophy that embraces the universal healing elements and promotes “radical healing” (S. A. Ginwright 2009) for oppressed communities while acknowledging historical realities and calling for a bold, revolutionary political framework in our offering of the practice.