Beyond the Masks: Race, Gender, and Subjectivity
Psychology has had a number of things to say about black and colonised peoples. Beyond the Masks is a book which seeks to go beyond Franz Fanon's concept of black identity as a 'white mask', placing race and gender at the centre of our understanding of identity. Amina Mama argues that rather than simply internalising what psychological theory and dominant culture have to say about them, black women invoke collective history in a continuous struggle to counteract the racism and sexism of their cultural milieu and so to develop new subjectivities. The contradictions imposed on individuals by an oppressive social order inspire personal struggles that generate a new self-awareness and lead to social change. Colonial and racist psychological discourses on 'the African' and 'the Negro' are located in the history of slavery and colonialism, demonstrating the complex interplay between psychological science and dominant interests. To overcome this hegemony, Amina Mama re-theorises subjectivity as a continuous creative and dynamic response to the mechanisms of domination and subjugation. Through a study of the changing consciousness of a number of black women, she uses the racialised and gendered aspects of identity as the base for a radically different conceptualisation of subjectivity itself.
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