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Thursday, October 21 • 1:00pm - 2:30pm
How to Hide the Eugenic Empire: Histories of Eugenics in Western Psychology

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This presentation will review centrality of scientific and social eugenics movement in development of Western psychology. Eugenics or “science of racial betterment” was central in foundations of American psychology, including in use of racial and gender comparisons, statistics, testing, vocational tracking, animal experimentation, behaviorism, and many other approaches. Many of its most problematic practices supported rather than resisted racist, sexist, colonial, and other oppressive social ideologies. Specific focus will be given to epistemological views in early American and Western psychology that led to subsequent research and applied practices, which have been termed violent, unjust, and problematic. The context of Hawaii and its history will be used to frame this presentation in relation to colonization-based eugenic standpoints versus efforts to resist and challenge these perspectives. The audience will be invited to consider ways in which eugenics has shaped mental health science and practice, and to envision new pathways toward developing psychologies of social justice and decolonization. Concepts related to colonialism/decolonialism, liberation, critical psychology, human sciences, and indigeneity will be especially emphasized.

Learning Objectives:
  • Identity and apply understanding of eugenic history in psychology to evaluation of past and present day mental health research and practices.
  • Evaluate eugenic epistemological values in relation to socio-historic histories specific to Hawaiian context.
  • Examine and integrate decolonial, liberation, critical and indigenous standpoints in science and practice of psychology and mental health.

Yakushko, O. (2019). Eugenics and its evolution in Western psychology. Psychotherapy and Politics International. 
Gaztambide, D. J. (2019). A people’s history of psychoanalysis: From Freud to liberation psychology. Lexington Books.
Watkins, M., & Shulman, H. (2008). Toward psychologies of liberation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Saini, A. (2019). Superior: The return of race science. Beacon Press.
Tucker, W. H. (1996). The science and politics of racial research. University of Illinois Press.
Immerwahr, D. (2019). How to hide an empire: A short history of the greater United States. Random House.

The evaluation/CE request form for this program can be found HERE.

avatar for Oksana Yakushko, PhD

Oksana Yakushko, PhD

Professor, Pacifica Graduate Institute
Oksana Yakushko, PhD is a licensed psychologist and professor of clinical psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her research has focused on issues related to migration, gender, and multicultural psychology. Her recent scholarship has shifted to studying the impact of eugenics... Read More →

Thursday October 21, 2021 1:00pm - 2:30pm HST
Room 4
  Keynote Workshop