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Featured Articles from Around the Globe

Global Perspectives and Experiences of Community Psychologists for the Promotion of Social Change and the Construction of Radical Solidarities

Global Perspectives and Experiences of Community Psychologists for the Promotion of Social Change and the Construction of Radical Solidarities by  James F. Moura Jr, Christopher C. Sonn, Irma Serrano Garcia, Blanca Ortiz-Torres

Author(s): James F. Moura Jr, Christopher C. Sonn, Irma Serrano Garcia, Blanca Ortiz-Torres


In this special issue we seek to document and learn from exemplars from around the world of interventions and other forms of applied work in organisational, community, and everyday social settings that are aimed at producing social change and changing oppressive social and cultural realities. This introduction presents the colonial origins of oppression and strategies for building social change based on radical solidarity. Colonialism, violence, and social inequality are interconnected. We realize that it is urgent to generate solitarily social change to transform these historical and transnational realities of oppression. Social change is realized through the praxis developed in historically deprived community contexts, respecting individuals' cultural and identity characteristics. Radical solidarity is necessary to question possible practices of colonial tutelage of communities. Likewise, praxis for social change must be developed creatively at the various levels of action and respect the intersectional trajectories of groups and individuals. We present diverse praxis experiences for social change in different contexts and levels of action developed by community psychologists, seeking to build a network of radical solidarity focused on dismantling colonial power.


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The editors of this special issue are located in different parts of the Globe: Australia/South Africa, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. These countries are connected through and shaped by histories of slavery, colonization, racialized capitalism, and ongoing forms of structural and symbolic violence, as well as the concomitant efforts of struggle, resistance, and survival. We understand the need to act locally in our territories, the dynamics of power and oppression and its transnational circuits, and the importance and value of learning from different regions, communities, and social groups. With this local and global interconnectedness in mind, we developed this special issue, inspired by the goals of promoting solidarities for social transformation of the International Conference on Community Psychology held in Melbourne, Australia in 2020. We are cognizant of the interconnectedness of the global knowledge economy, English language dominance, the pervasiveness of Euro-American centrism in the circulation of psychological and community psychologies. Hence, we also set out to bridge language and cultural contexts by bringing together a multilingual team with diverse social and cultural locations to coedit an issue of GJCPP.


In this issue, we want to illustrate the possibilities that come with widening the ecology of knowledge, approaches, and practice for community research and action through intercultural dialogue, the power of critical reflective praxis and consciousness, and the important practices of ‘repowering’ (Rua et al., 2021) in different contexts and countries. For Rua and colleagues (2021) the concept of repowering comes from an indigenous imagination and efforts to reassert and re-narrate indigenous knowledge and practice, suppressed by colonizing discourses and practice, in the process of self-determination and sovereignty. Repowering is akin to the notion of re-existence expressed in the writing on decoloniality, which refers to practices of “redefining and re-signifying of life in conditions of dignity in self-determination” (Alban in Mignolo & Walsh, 2018, p .18).


This introductory article is divided in three sections. First, we will analyze some of the main social problems experienced locally and transnationally. This is followed by the identification of some strategies for developing social change through the construction of bridges for solidarity. After that, we present the articles included in this special issue that focus on these local practices of promoting social change.


Colonialism, violence, and social inequality

Poverty, violence, and social, racial, and gender inequalities with their origins in colonialism plague different countries globally (Mignolo, 2008). With the support of Christianity, colonizers created the ideology of the superiority of wealthy white heterosexual men from the Global North (Quijano, 2005), racialising and dehumanizing populations with identities constructed as inferior (Sonn, & Stevens, 2021).  Colonialism created a global structure based on racial, sexual, gender, class, and territorial divisions (Nelson-Maldonado, 2008). Coloniality, a contemporary variation of colonialism, dehumanizes and legitimizes violence against non-white people, women, LGBTIQIAP+ people, and individuals in the Global South (Bernardino-Costa, Maldonado-Torres, & Grosfoguel, 2019).


Modernity and capitalism as connected change processes entailed various, social, cultural, technological practices along with ideologies of progress and development about change akin to those underpinning colonization (Bernardino-Costa et al., 2019). Modernity is

molded in Europe, particularly from the 18th century onward. It was, however, a result of a complex of changes that occurred throughout the totality of the world that was subjected to European domination beginning at the end of the 15th century. (Quijano, 1989, p. 148)

Capitalism emerged from Europe's appropriation, accumulation, and violence during colonization (Mignolo, 2008). Racism, patriarchy, and capitalism continue to be intertwined in world geopolitics, with some arguing that the world is divided between South and North, between humans and non-humans (Santos, 2019). There is more violence against populations located in the Global South that are marked by racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, among other forms of oppression (Mbembe, 2016). Community Psychology must be attentive to these oppressions and the colonial matrix of power present in developing practices to dismantle these historical inequalities (Fernández et al., 2021). Martín-Baró (1998) states that the work of Psychology should be based on realismo crítico, considering the concreteness of inequalities, violence, and discrimination, and producing efforts to de-ideologise and transform reality. Montero (2004) adds that the possibility of change resides in problematization, consciousness raising and de-ideologization, thus placing these processes at the forefront of Community Psychology’s charge.


Poverty and social inequalities have intensified globally due to the pandemic of Covid-19 and geopolitical disparities (OXAFAM, 2021), with 5,331,019 people killed (World Health Organization, 2021) due to this virus. Covid-19 has fatally affected historically marginalized populations, exacerbating inequalities (Calmon, 2020). The Covid-19 pandemic has in fact become a site of oppression and coloniality. There is an upsurge in poverty and labor precariousness as well as deepening barriers to healthcare access primarily in populations of color, the poor, adolescents and children, people with disabilities, and those in the Global South (Nunes et al., 2021). Poverty should be recognized beyond monetary deprivation, being understood as a violation of fundamental human rights in and across contexts and countries (Moura Jr et al., 2019). Like inequality, poverty is maintained and reproduced by the unequal structure of societies reflected in hierarchical systems, the accumulation of wealth by local and global elites through exploitation, and growing gaps between those in the zone of being and non-being, thereby continuing colonial systems (Dussel, 2000; Therborn, 2009).


Various forms of violence have also plagued social groups with non-hegemonic identities. Structural violence comprises cultural and symbolic dimensions that are concretized in direct violent acts against distinct populations located within these identities marked by coloniality (Dutta et al., 2016). Extreme right-wing authoritarian movements reproduce and strengthen white supremacist, racist, and sexist dichotomies (Gounari, 2021), intensifying acts of violence. This violence should be understood through the intersection of axes of oppression (Crenshaw, 1989) with distinct identity markers (race, class, gender, sexuality, territory, nationality, generation, empowerment), uniquely impacting groups in their collective trajectories. Violence is a tool for maintaining inequalities used by governments to control historically marginalized populations (Martín-Baró, 1983).  Thus, it is necessary to aim the praxis of Community Psychology for social change on these historical realities and the mechanisms through which privilege and disadvantage are maintained and reproduced at present (Ruglis & Fine, 2009; Sonn & Stevens, 2021).


Praxis and social change

We believe that it is urgent to develop a Community Psychology with a concrete and ethical praxis to construct a more just reality focused on the social change of these oppressive structures at several levels (Gois, 2005; Montero, 2003, 2006). Praxis is the articulation of theory and practice aimed at transforming the unequal system of society (Freire, 1974). This praxis must be based on three epistemological axes: a) overcoming of the paradox between individual and social, b) the imbrication between theory and practice, and c) the indispensability of the ethical dimension (Guareschi, 2009; Montero, 2009; Winkler et al, 2014). The practice of Community Psychology should be oriented to the historically subordinated classes or what Martín-Baró (1994) referred to as a ‘preferential  option for the poor’ and the questioning of elitist positions in Psychology (Lane, 1996). The ethical dimension should be liberating because our actions should target the structural and colonial violence present in society (Dussel, 2000). Strategies for social change include recovering historical memory, de-ideologizing reality, and strengthening the potentialities of historically marginalized groups (Martín-Baró, 1996).


Ethics is the foundation for the construction of social change aimed at radical solidarity. Solidarity is a core value in community action at the personal, interpersonal, and community level (Moane, 2003). Solidarity can be expressed in various ways but it ultimately entails that we understand “our own lives and agency as bound together with the rights, well-being, health and dignity of others here and now” (Jennings, 2017, p. 557). Community psychologists must choose to act with historically marginalized groups (Nelson et al., 2001). Solidarity needs to be transnational, avoiding paternalistic practices that reproduce a salvationist colonial structure (Dutta, 2018). This choice is based on the sacrifice of serving collectively over individualistic approaches, constantly questioning the unequal structure of society (Martín-Baró, 1986).  Lykes (2013) conceives that there must be a repositioning of power and the cultivation of empathy with local communities that suffer daily from the consequences of colonization and imperialism. Solidarity is also a value and embodied praxis that grounds resistance, oppression, and engagement in community action (Moane, 2003). Solidarity is an embodied relational praxis and requires that different positioned social actors navigate the dilemmas and challenges that arise in the context of power/knowledge relations (Seedat, & Suffla, 2017).


For social change to be feasible, it must target multiple levels:  the personal, group, community, and societal levels. Oppressions impact individuals, communities, and society differently and must be addressed at these different levels (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010). Consciousness of oppressive situations is central to the critical appropriation of reality and the development of concrete actions for social change (Freire, 1979). Communities should be the central locus of action in Community Psychology (Kelly, 2006; Montero, 2003). Community Psychology actions should be carried out with people, groups, and communities in collaborative ways, focusing on autonomy, avoiding practices of tutelage of individuals (Gois, 2005, 2008, 2012), and paternalistic attitudes (Watkins, 2021). People should be understood from the imbrication between life trajectory, groups, communities and society in an intersectional way (Wallerstein et al, 2015). Actions should have a practical and daily character with social commitment from the community psychologist (Sacipa-Rodriguez & Montero, 2014). Community efforts can result in the development of critical consciousness, strengthening of people, groups, and communities, more significant community mobilization, advocacy and activism with macro-structural impacts on social policies (Burton & Kagan, 2009; Gois, 2005; Moane, 2003; Vera, 2020).


Equally, these praxes must respect the intersectional trajectories that constitute the lives of local groups. The intersectional lens helps build a social justice-oriented praxis more concretely, as it connects to the specificities of the identity trajectories of diverse social groups (Moradi & Grzanka, 2017). Impoverished women of color should be central in action in an intersectional perspective (Bernardino-Costa, 2015), because the multiple axes of oppression, such as racism, sexism, and classism, subordinate the trajectory of black, brown, indigenous, and Asian women in a more violent and intersectional manner (Collins, & Bilge, 2016). Community Psychology actions must contemplate the specificities of diverse groups of women of color (Dutta, 2016). However, we point out that strategies of resistance developed by historically marginalized groups need to be understood at their intersections and in the context of dynamics of oppression and resistance (Henning, 2015; Lugones, 2016). Likewise, praxis for justice and social change must be immersed in the cultural contexts in which these groups operate (Kral et al, 2011). Working with communities from distinct cultural contexts must be based on a process of constant learning and recognitions of multiple and diverse “saberes”  (Suzuki et al, 2019). We must be aware that particular cultural contexts are intersectionally entangled with racism, colonialism, classism, sexism, cisgenderheteronormativity, among others (APA, 2017). Chavez et al (2019) suggest that racialized groups should involve individuals, families, and communities in interventions. Transformative community action needs to be based on the cultural universe of the groups involved (Chavez et al., 2010). Dialogue is the primary tool for understanding the cultural dimension of people, the groups they are part of, and the community itself (Freire, 1983). As noted by Montero and Sonn (2009) dialogue:

is expressed in the need to incorporate the cultural knowledge and the people’s voices. The need to understand everything happens in social relationships, and that the other in those relations has to be not only acknowledged, but also heard and answered (Montero & Sonn, 2009, p. 2).

Finally, creativity ought to be central to actions aimed at social change (Nelson & Prilleltensky, 2010). The path to social transformation is linked to the ability to imagine different possibilities for a more critical and just life (Watkins, 2021). Gois (2005) states that research in Community Psychology should be creative and guided by the community's interests and can be developed in qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods, but also beyond this narrow categorization reflecting on the politics and ethics of knowledge production. Hence, we need to be aware of capture, subordination, and classification practices that the ‘scientific method’ can reproduce (Castro-Gómez, 2007; Sonn & Green, 2006). This is especially so with assumptions of the objectivity and universality of its products rooted in the ways of knowing of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic (WEIRD) countries (Decolonial Collective, 2021). Thus, research should be used to construct counter-hegemonic narratives and empower local knowledge by questioning colonial structures of oppression in society, academia, and in our disciplines (Dutta et al., 2021; Sonn & Green, 2006).


Community psychologists should facilitate actions of social change at the personal, community, and societal levels to transform these historical and colonial oppressions. We act using liberation ethics (Dussel, 2000; Martín-Baró, 1986) to question meritocratic and individualistic attitudes, expanding solidarity to interconnected local and global realities. We have to reflect on our practice so we are not captured by the colonial logic of reproducing inequalities. According to Freire (1979), we must constantly reflect and problematize the theories that we use, the practices we develop, and the interactions we establish. Thus, we must be humble and open to critique our positions to overcome colonial oppression in a dialectical way and to operationalize social change in our actions. Guided by this Freirian attitude, in this special issue we critically present local practices that promote social change in different territories.


Local actions and transnational dialogues for social change: In search of a critical global solidarity

We begin this transactional and critical journey into various actions to promote social change with the video "Doing Ethical Research Together: A Communitarian Toolkit for Ethical Research Beyond Borders" by Calia and colleagues. Researchers and professors from the United Kingdom, Italy, Malawi, and Chile assisted in its production, constituting a global effort. We start our conversation with this video because, as previously stated, we understand that ethics is central to social change. Thus, ethics should guide critical reflection about our attitudes. Also, we would suggest that ethics must be of liberation (Martín-Baró, 1986; Dussel, 2000).  Central to values-based practice is relationality and ethics that guide research and action.  Calia and colleagues, introduce an ethics toolkit for research that they developed through collaborative processes with research and practitioners in various countries, from different sectors and diverse disciplines.  In their conversation they highlighted that clarifying worldviews, standpoints and principles are vital to ethical practice across all phases of the research cycle through translation and dissemination.  Their toolkit provides an important resource to research crossing in and across border spaces and raises important questions about the geopolitics of the knowledge economy and the importance of asking questions about whose ethics we respond to and how to ensure that these are at the forefront of place-based and community-engaged research and action.


Equally, actions for social change can be developed by other social actors. Research must be aligned with collaborative interventions with people in their communities (Gois, 2005; Montero, 2006). We see this reflection on the characteristics of interventions in local communities in the work of Chilean authors Marianne Daher and Adriana Rosati in the article "Fortaleci endo el vínculo universidad - comunidad : Buenas prácticas y material de apoyo para el aprendizaje en servicio." Daher and Rosati present research with agents involved in community interventions in Chile. The authors systematize the community practices developed by students, teachers, community leaders and communities. They conducted qualitative research with focus groups and semi-structured interviews. In this article, there is a focus on the development of actions in Community Psychology by university members emphasizing the importance of the relational and collaborative character of efforts in Community Psychology, avoiding non-dialogical practices in communities. They present the characteristics for developing bonds between the external agents and the residents of the communities, which facilitated building guides for operationalizing these practices in a creative audiovisual production. The construction of these powerful bonds can promote actions focused on local relevance, social commitment, justice, social change, and solidarity between communities and external agents.


In the video "Linking leading community experiences to Social Psychology academic training" presented by Eduardo Almeida about work in Mexico, the need for communities to lead the way in Community Psychology work is also highlighted. Through a description of a long and fruitful career, Almeida demonstrates how his work in a rural indigenous community highlighted the limitations of the training of community psychologists. He also speaks to the development of participatory research experiences, which as recommended previously, were guided by the community. Finally, he presents what he considers key elements of community practice.


Daher and Rosati as well as Almeida reflect on the role of universities and on the importance of transforming community psychologists training so both are more responsive to communities while grounded in critical analysis. Training should be a process that respects local community dynamics, builds meaningful relationships with residents of the communities, and generates problematization and critical analysis in the faculty and students involved.


Continuing in Latin America, we present action focused on social change built collaboratively with the communities using artistic processes and manifestations. Yasmín Maldonado (Puerto Rico) in the article Process of community transformation through the performing arts in two community settings in Puerto Rico reports research using community art to develop strategies for community transformation in historically marginalized communities in Puerto Rico. The author presents a context of poverty, unemployment, violence, and consequences of natural disasters constituting a scenario of the coloniality of catastrophe. To transform this colonial reality at the interpersonal and community levels, Community Psychology pirnciples and strategies were use to mobilize creative art as a tool to facilitate solidarity and critical actions for the transformation of reality in two distinct contexts, a geographic community called Residencial Luis Llorens Torres and an institutional community called Escuela Alternativa. This participatory intervention research used several document reviews, ethnographic participant observation, questionnaires, and interviews. A plurality of instruments demonstrates the diversity of knowledge construction processes and active participants at the personal, interpersonal, community, and institutional levels.The results of their participatory action research was demonstrated on several levels, with workshops that promoted a process of empowerment for the communities and the people involved. The participating youth began to understand gender norms more critically, questioning gender coloniality and its relations with various forms of oppression (Segatto, 2014). Families became closer to their children, developing more critical and activist positions for change in policies and their surroundings. In addition, community networks became more robust in mobilization and collective creation, resulting in the expansion of actions to produce other mobilization strategies such as audiovisual materials.


There is poverty, violence, and discrimination running through the trajectories of social groups with non-hegemonic identities in territories in the so-called Global North.  Minou Mebane and Maura Benedetti’s article entitled "Hopes and fears for the future of different local communities" is based on a survey to identify the perception of the future among communities in the center of Rome, Italy, on the periphery of the capital and in small towns in the metropolitan area. The authors used an interdisciplinary methodology called community profiling including focus groups with members of different communities. Communities were analyzed from territorial, geographical, economic, service, institutional, anthropological, and psychological perspectives. The authors explore the hopes and fears about the future of both psychological and territorial dimensions. They argue that the function of Community Psychology is to develop actions for the construction of more united futures for historically marginalized communities and populations in situations of oppression at the personal, interpersonal, and community levels. Thus, the authors point to the need to identify the strengths, weaknesses, and needs that run through community life to promote social justice.


Mebane and Benedetti understand that the trajectories of communities need to ground the construction of better futures. Residents feel more empowered when they know how their communities are structured to be able to act in their contexts. This process of community profile building also empowers historically marginalized groups who share their communities' visions. From an intersectional lens, residents of central areas point to ways to improve their communities with physical interventions in their spaces. The poorer suburbs indicate that cultural and educational services should be improved. The residents of small towns report the need for improvements in the economy. In general, the residents of the different communities point to the basic need of feeling safe as the primary psychological need. The authors point out the importance of local knowledge with gender and generation-specific understandings to construct new and fairer realities.


Reflecting on these experiences in Chile, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Italy, we understand that it is also essential to question the university's role since academic institutions can reproduce colonial practices of classification and subordination of populations. Even though the research was developed in the Global South, coloniality is present as a cognitive system in modern societies (Bernardino-Costa et al., 2019). Therefore, it is essential to reflect about if and how our praxis is oriented towards social change (Gois, 2015). In addition, intersectional lenses must be operationalized to understand the oppressive processes that can be developed from the interactions between distinct markers of privilege-oppression between university-community. Maryam Khan from Pakistan, in her article "Catalytic Framework: Intersectional Analysis for Community Engagement" develops an important intersectional model to analyze the praxis of social change in communities. Khan and co-authors present the Catalytic framework that aims to develop intersectional community engagement in Pakistan's peripheral urban and rural communities.  The authors reject the extractivist mode of knowledge production supported by colonial origins. They bring their experiences to poor and historically neglected communities. These experiences present community engagement as a strategy to strengthen critical consciousness and collective resolution of local problems. This engagement must be developed from participatory and dialogical actions with the communities. They conceive intersectionality as indispensable to understanding the life contexts of social groups. The authors prioritize qualitative narrative methodologies to understand the intermingling of collective and individual experiences. Catalysis is the process of reflection on the possible changes that can be made in the presented narratives, which should help identifying the necessary actions. In addition, the methodology foresees the questioning of the intersections with race, class, gender, sexuality, and territory present in the communities' narratives. With this, the authors envision constructing a path for interventions in the communities based on the visibility of these colonial oppressions and their points of change in an intersectional perspective.


The last two articles present intersectional insights and the questioning of the colonial basis of social inequalities. Thus, we perceive that these last two experiences even though situated in the Global North, bring intersectional trajectories of the Global South and coloniality into their territories (Sonn & Stevens, 2021). They also present decolonial resistances and proposals for social change and solidarity focused on ancestral knowledge. Graham and colleagues with the article Hidden hunger in a land of plenty: Food insecurity in Aotearoa New Zealand focus on the issue of food insecurity in Aotearoa/New Zealand.  They define food insecurity as people’s inability to access nutritional food in socially acceptable ways and highlight the role of food in the context of cultural needs and practices. They explore food practices within a Maori worldview arguing that access to food and practices that are interwoven with ways of being is essential to flourishing communities.  With this background they describe three research case studies to visibilize hunger and poverty in NZ, and the levers for social change.  The authors identify the importance of research to highlight these often hidden issues and the role of scholar activists to elevate stories of people who are often blamed for their circumstances.  Through case studies in different settings the authors show elements of scholar activism expressed as solidarity work, research practice interface at different levels of analysis, and the centrality of principled practice.


A range of methods and analytic frameworks are applied; one project drew on media reports, political speeches, and other materials that construct and convey common – sense understandings and dominant narratives about hunger in school children.  Narrative theory, storytelling, critical narrative analysis were used to examine how neoliberal ideology and other practices and discourses can be barriers to addressing food insecurity.  A second project examined the experiences of Maori families in the hospitals, a system with its roots in settler colonialism that privileges Pakeha norms and values. The interview data revealed that family members often suffer hunger while a child is hospitalized. In their analysis the author bring attention to how systems can fail to attend to the needs and experiences of parents and family in distress in a system that is anything but culturally safe. A third study drew on ethnographic methods including interviews, field notes and participant observation as well as photo elicitation to document the experiences of people living with food insecurity.  The study showed the effects of not having sufficient resources to feed families including attendant issues of stigma and shame, as well as strategies to survive in a context where they feel judged.  The study presents methods for activism and contesting dominant narratives that are dehumanizing and victim blaming by elevating counter stories through media and other modes of dissemination that convey humanity, humor and hardship.


For Graham and colleagues  “Decolonising community psychology means reflexively engaging in ways to incorporate socially transformative change and how we do (or do not) conform to scholarship demands for detached mind-work.”  Through community oriented research practice the studies elevate an often overlooked issue of food insecurity in what many consider a land of plenty.  The studies elevate the stories of families who suffer the brunt of structural and symbolic violence in a context of settler colonialism and neoliberal capitalism. The authors show how research within a scholar activist framework can be mobilized to stand with and as groups who are oppressed.  They conclude that “Engaged community psychologists have a duty to be the conscience of society and in doing so have the responsibility to challenge the power differences and historical practices (such as colonization) that maintain inequities” (p. 16).


Houglum and Nobrega-Olivera from the United States with the article Kanaeokana: Developing a network to transform education and sustain aloha ʻĀina,” document the journey of The Kanaeokana Network developed to foster cultural knowledge with  community focus and  global reach including the production of digital and nondigital spaces. A key goal is to strengthen a Native Hawaiian Education System.  Similar to Graham and colleagues Houglum and Nobrega-Olivera also present community engaged practice in a context that recognizes a history of colonialism and its alarming present effects on indigenous populations, Maori in New Zealand and Native Hawaiians.  These authors describe the origins of the network rooted in the need to address educational and other inequities experienced by Native Hawaiians.  They present the formation of a network of leaders supportive of Hawaiian culture, rooted in values and ways of being reflected in the term “aloha ʻāina” connoting loyalty and allegiance to the land. They note that aloha ʻāina is

… deeply rooted connection and commitment to the physical and spiritual health of Hawaiʻi’s lands, seas, and skies; a devotion to protect and support Hawaiian cultural practices that take place within the embrace of ʻāina … (p. 3-4)

The article describes a network approach, a broad coalition made up of diverse stakeholders, with a shared vision, mechanisms of communication and strategies for change and influence.  A central feature of the approach described in the paper is the centering of Native Hawaiian cultural values and practices and the various stages that are informed by aloha ʻāina. In some ways the article is illustrative of an effort to produce social change through the enactment of indigenous imagination (Smith, 2017) which in so many countries in the Global South has been suppressed by colonialism.  The approach described in this paper echoes the body of work advancing Indigenous frameworks and approaches as vital to decolonization.  Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith, noted that decolonization:

has not meant a total rejection of all theory or research or Western knowledge. Rather, it is about centering our concerns and world views and then coming to know and understand theory and research from our own perspectives and for our own purposes. (p. 41)

One of the practices evident in this project akin to the decolonial concept of re-existence, recovery and resurgence of practices that are concerned with “redefining and re-signifying of life in conditions of dignity in self-determination (Alban in Mignolo & Walsh, 2018, p .18).  Rua and colleagues (2021) refer to similar practices as ‘repowering’.  Values-based practice is a central feature of community praxis as shown in the projects described by Graham and colleagues and Houglum and Nobrega-Olivera.


Final considerations

As is evident in the works presented, global social problems have a colonial origin. These colonial marks cross the diverse cultural contexts and the intersectional trajectories of individuals, groups, communities and nations. In this collection, we brought together several examples of efforts from around the globe that focus on these urgent and necessary social changes. As community psychologists, we need to learn from these varied actions in dialogue and solidarity in local and transnational contexts. These actions must be based on respect for the cultural and intersectional dimensions that constitute communities. We must also instill these values and practices in future generations of community psychologist by challenging rigid and theoretically laden curricula in academic settings. Furthermore, all authors in this issue highlight that we should act in a collaborative, solidary, and collective way with individuals in their contexts. We hope that these transnational bridges of social change become whole territories where social justice and the end of colonial inequalities prevail.



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James F. Moura Jr, Christopher C. Sonn, Irma Serrano Garcia, Blanca Ortiz-Torres James F. Moura Jr, Christopher C. Sonn, Irma Serrano Garcia, Blanca Ortiz-Torres

James Moura Jr is professor of the Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Humanities at the University of International Integration of the Afro-Brazilian Lusophony (UNILAB) and of the Graduate Program in Psychology at the Federal University of Ceará (UFC). He is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar in the Center for International Justice and Human Rights at Boston College (2021-2022). He is a member of the Latin American Training Network in Community Psychology. Coordinator of Network for the Study and Confrontation of Poverty, Discrimination and Resistance. He has been active in participatory action research and university extension through direct actions with women and children in poverty situations, developing actions focused on improving the lives of these populations in the region of Maciço de Baturité in Ceará/Brazil.


Christopher C. Sonn, PhD, is Professor at Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia on the land of the Wurundjeri of the Kulin nation. He Deputy Director Research Training and fellow of the Institute of Health and Sport. His research is concerned with understanding and changing dynamics of oppression and resistance, examining structural violence such as racism, and its effects on social identities, intergroup relations and belonging. He holds a Visiting Professorship at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He is co-editor of Creating Inclusive Knowledges, and co-author of Social Psychology and Everyday Life, and Associate Editor of the American Journal of Community Psychology and Community Psychology in Global Perspective


Dr. Irma Serrano-García is a Retired Professor of the Department of Psychology at the University of Puerto Rico. She has over 150 scholarly publications including journal articles, book chapters and seventeen books of which the best known include: the APA Handbook of Community Psychology, and Historias de Psicología Comunitaria en América Latina,co-edited with Maritza Montero. She has presided the Puerto Rico Psychology Association (PRPA) and the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA). She has coordinated many professional events including the Interamerican Congress of Psychology and the First International Conference of Community Psychology. She has presented her work across five continents and received various awards including the Life-time Achievement Award from the PRPA, the Interamerican Psychologist of the Year Award from the ISP and the Distinguished Contributions to Theory in Community Psychology Award from SCRA. After her retirement, Dr. Serrano-García continues to publish about community psychology, coloniality, public policy, program evaluation, university teaching and learning and is a consultant to non-profit organizations and universities.


Blanca Ortiz-Torres was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She has a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from New York University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico (UPR).  She has held several research and teaching positions in Puerto Rico and New York. For twenty-five years she was a faculty member in the Psychology Department and the Institute for Psychological Research at the UPR, Río Piedras Campus (UPR). At UPR she was Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies.  She retired from the university in 2019. Her research interests include decoloniality, gender, sexuality, community empowerment, the development of structural interventions to prevent HIV in various groups, public policy, and cuban migration. She also does research in areas such as community activation, citizen participation and development of community capital.  She has offered courses as invited professor in Cuba, Uruguay, México, Ecuador, United States, Dominican Republic, and Perú. She has published multiple articles and book chapters.

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Keywords: Social change, Praxis, Solidarity, Oppression