In the fifth installment of the Society for Qualitative Inquiry in Psychology (SQIP) Distinguished Researcher Interview Series, Logan Barsigian and Nisha Gupta speak with Sunil Bhatia about decolonizing psychology and the role of qualitative research in this work.
In this conversation, Bhatia shares his long-standing concerns and questions about psychology as a perpetrator of colonization, psychological coloniality in post-colonial India, and the ethnographic and narrative inquiry methods he used to research these phenomena—which resulted in his 2017 book, Decolonizing Psychology: Globalization, Social Justice, and Indian Youth Identities (Exploration in Narrative Psychology). Bhatia also offers insight about ethics and self-reflexivity, challenges and resistance, new frontiers and significant tasks for contemporary decolonial researchers, why it is important to decolonize academia as a whole as an imperialist project, and lessons to glean from the massive social justice movements across history.
For viewers interested in particular portions of the interview, we are including the following timestamps:
04:10 – The genesis of Bhatia’s decolonial research as a psychologist, after observing how the field of psychology has advanced the project of colonialism and racism, as well as how psychological colonialism was internalized by Indian scholars
09:50 – Bhatia’s experiences of returning to his hometown to research how coloniality is lived by three different youth communities in postcolonial India
15:00 – Challenges and resistance experienced while pursuing decolonial work as an early career psychologist
22:35 – Ethics, self-reflexivity, and relationality during the methodological process of doing decolonial narrative and ethnographic research
32:00 – Bhatia’s perspectives of the most significant tasks for contemporary psychologists to take up in our work to decolonize our field and the academy as a whole
41:25 – Learning from the massive social justice movements across history as models for our own decolonial work
Sunil Bhatia is a professor and chair of the Department of Human Development at Connecticut College. He is the author of two books and over 50 articles and book chapters. He has received numerous awards for his work in the field of decolonizing psychology, cultural psychology, and qualitative methods and for studies of migrant and racial identities. His book Decolonizing Psychology: Globalization, Social Justice, and Indian Youth Identities, received the 2018 William James book award from the American Psychological Association (APA).
Logan Barsigian is a doctoral student in social psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a student member of SQIP.
Nisha Gupta is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia, and the communications chair of SQIP.