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Volume 54, Number 1 Winter 2021
Edited by Douglas D. Perkins, Vanderbilt University and Olga Oliveira Cunha, NOVA School of Social Sciences and Humanities.
Written by Douglas D. Perkins, Vanderbilt University
For TCP readers unfortunate enough to have missed the seventh International Conference on Community Psychology in October, 2018, in Santiago, Chile, or even those who attended but missed any of the featured presentations, a new collection of papers based on those presentations was just published in November and can be read for free online at https://issuu.com/libropsicologiacomunitaria/docs/libro_cipc. The volume entitled Diálogos contemporáneos en psicología comunitaria: Escenarios, problemas y aprendizajes (Contemporary Dialogues in Community Psychology: Scenarios, Problems and Lessons) was edited by Conference Chair Jaime Alfaro Inzunza, along with Bárbara Olivares Espinoza, Ma. Verónica Monreal Álvarez, Paris Gamonal Corbalán, and Francisco Jeannerett Birth. Dr. Alfaro and his team have done the global field of community psychology a great service in compiling so many of the invited addresses from the conference after giving the authors the opportunity to edit and polish their ideas into more coherent chapters.
Although most of the chapters are in Spanish, several are in English, and the Foreword to the whole volume, written by longtime TCP international columnist Irma Serrano-García, is published in both Spanish and English. (As an Associate Editor of the open-access, no-author-fee journal Psychosocial Intervention, which also uses a mixed-language format, I encourage native English speakers to learn to read Spanish—as readers of English as a second language all over the world do with our dominant language. Readers who want the PDF can request it from me (address at end of article), and if needed (while imperfect) use Google Translate.) The title of Irma’s Foreword, which succinctly summarizes the entire volume, is Solidez y Compromiso: El Futuro de la Psicología Comunitaria (Strength and Commitment: The Future of Community Psychology). I appreciate and agree with her assessment and conclusion that, perhaps against all odds, our discipline has managed to survive and grow both internationally and interdisciplinarily, but that concerted work is yet needed for community psychology to fully live up to its foundational values of “commitment to disadvantaged peoples; respect and appreciation of culture, empowerment, and our goals for change and social justice” (p. 20).
An introductory chapter provides an overview of the whole conference, in which participants came from 29 countries, including: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The first section of the book is on ethics and politics in working with communities and begins with a chapter entitled the “African-diaspora in Australia Narrating Stories of Belonging through Community Theatre: Enacting Decolonial Aesthetics toward Epistemic Justice” by Rama Agung-Igusti and Chris Sonn. They “examine a community arts project called AMKA that was informed by decolonial attitude and necessitated by a desire to (re)create narratives from the African-diaspora in Naarm/Birraranga1 (Melbourne), Australia, that centres them as the originators of their stories” (p.45). That is followed by a chapter on “Los Derechos Humanos, la Violencia Institucional y la Acción Social en México” (Human Rights, Institutional Violence and Social Action in Mexico) by Eduardo Almeida Acosta. The section concludes with an international collaboration by Terry Mitchell from Canada and Gonzalo Bustamante-Rivera from Chile on “La Intervención Comunitaria con Pueblos Indígenas: Desafíos y Apuestas desde la Psicología Comunitaria” (Community Intervention with Indigenous Peoples: Challenges and Gambles from Community Psychology).
The second section addresses such questions as: How does one use community frames of reference when studying or implementing government policies and programs? What problems arise and what pathways are possible in the creating and applying policy-focused theories, logic models, technical training and practice? Alfaro’s chapter “Posibilidades y Tensiones en la Relación entre Psicología Comunitaria y Políticas Sociales” (Possibilities and Tensions in the Relationship between Community Psychology and Social Policies) argues that community psychologists must understand how different ideological and related theoretical assumptions and models of government determine the creation, nature, function, and transformation of social policies. The second paper, “La Política de las Políticas: La Posición de los/as Psicólogos/as Comunitarios/as frente al Quehacer Gubernamental” (The Politics of Policies: The Position of Community Psychologists in confronting Government Work), by María Isabel Reyes Espejo and Bárbara Olivares Espin analyzes the challenges of professional work with or inside government using participatory methods of engaging both public employees and citizens in the community. In my own chapter entitled “Public Policy Training, Research and Practice for Community Psychologists in the U.S.” (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/346081772_Public_policy_training_research_and_practice_for_community_psychologists_in_the_US), I “provide a brief history of community psychologists’ involvement in public policy in the U.S. and…briefly describe my own personal history and engagement with policy work... The focus of the rest of the paper (is) on some of the ways community psychologists are trained and work in the U.S. in the policy arena and how (SCRA) and other APA divisions are addressing the challenges of psychologists having an impact on government policies at all levels: local, state, national, and international. I… focus on graduate and professional training for policy work, theory and research on policy issues and engagement, and examples of advocacy practice or interventions for policy change” (p. 171). The last paper in this section is by renowned community psychologist Esther Wiesenfeld and Stefany Larrota and titled “Psicología Ambiental Comunitaria y Desarrollo Sostenible: El Caso de la Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela (GMVV)” (Environmental Community Psychology and Sustainable Development: The case of the Great Venezuela Housing Mission). They analyze the results of that policy, the international Habitat conferences, and the Venezuelan response from environmental, community psychosocial, economic, and political perspectives.
The third section of the book is on mental health and community psychology. The first paper is “El Lugar de la Comunidad en las Políticas de Salud Mental” (The Place of the Community in Mental Health Policies) by Verónica Monreal Álvarez, who focuses particularly on empowerment, organizational dynamics, and participation of groups of Recovery and other mental health program users and family members. The next paper by Jorge Castellá-Sarriera is “Salud Mental y Bienestar Socio-Comunitario en el Sur del Brasil” (Mental Health and Socio-Community Well-being in the South of Brazil), which emphasizes the importance of community capacity to provide material, psychological and social resources for people's mental health. The last paper in this section, “La Vertiente de la Salud Mental en la Psicología Comunitaria” (The Angle on Mental Health in Community Psychology) by Enrique Saforcada analyzes the deteriorating state of mental healthcare, considering ongoing challenges to reconciling organic bases and cultural definitions of mental illness, actions of pharmaceutical corporations, inequity in the distribution of knowledge and medicalization of society; and the role of community psychology in reclaiming power and citizenship.
The fourth section is on social exclusion and community psychology. The first chapter by Monreal Álvarez, “El Problema de la Intervención Sociocomunitaria en Contextos de Exclusión Social” (The Problem of Socio-community Intervention in Contexts of Social Exclusion), updated to the political-economic crisis in Chile starting in late 2019, addresses community programs to reduce the social exclusion of those in a “street situation” (people experiencing homelessness). The next chapter is “Community Activity: A Mediator of the Work in Communities in Northeastern Brazil” by Verônica Morais Ximenes, James Ferreira Moura Jr., Elívia Camurça Cidade and Bárbara Barbosa Nepomuceno. They discuss liberation activities using dialogical-experiential methods with low-income residents as a paradigm for community work and social transformation. The last chapter of this section-- “Comunidad, Exclusión Social y Dignidad Humana: Apuntes para la Conversación” (Community, Social Exclusion and Human Dignity: Notes for the Conversation) by Benito Baranda Ferrán-- introduces ideas on "training in action," how contact with excluded people is a source of learning for liberation, and how deconstruction of poverty and recognition of human dignity promotes social inclusion and provides greater coherence to theory and action in community psychology.
The final section is on Professional Training, Ethics and Community Psychology and begins with a paper by Leonor María Cantera Espinosa titled “Perspectiva de Género y (Auto) Cuidado: Dos Pilares en el Proceso de Formación y Actividad Profesional” (Gender Perspective and (Self) Care: Two Pillars in the Training Process and Professional Activity). Next is “La Ética Psicosocial como Promoción de las Opciones Vitales” (Psychosocial Ethics as Promotion of Vital Options) by prominent Catalan psychologist Alipio Sánchez Vidal. The final chapter is “Construyendo Formación en Psicología Comunitaria: Reflexiones desde la Praxis en la Región de la Araucanía” (Building Training in Community Psychology: Reflections from Praxis in the Araucanía Region) by Alba Zambrano Constanzo and Daniel Henríquez Fernández.
In conclusion, this is the kind of edited volume from an international conference on community psychology from which both SCRA members and future Biennial Conference programmers could learn a great deal. I close with a reminder to please send your ideas for future TCP international columns about either an international collaboration or a community psychology project based outside of North America to both email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alfaro Inzunza, J., Espinoza, B. O., Álvarez, V. M., Corbalán, P. G., & Birth, F. J. (Eds.). (2020). Diálogos contemporáneos en psicología comunitaria: Escenarios, problemas y aprendizajes (Contemporary Dialogues in Community Psychology: Scenarios, Problems and Lessons). Santiago, Chile: 7ma Conferencia Internacional de Psicología Comunitaria. https://issuu.com/libropsicologiacomunitaria/docs/libro_cipc