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African American Studies

The Discipline and Its Dimensions

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Nathaniel Norment, Jr.

African American Studies: The Discipline and Its Dimensions is a comprehensive resource book that recounts the development of the discipline of African American Studies and provides a basic reference source for sixteen areas of knowledge of the discipline: anthropology, art, dance, economics, education, film, history, literature, music, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, political science, science and technology, sports and religion. African American Studies defines bodies of knowledge, methodologies, philosophies, disciplinary concepts, contents, scope, topics scholars have concerned themselves, as well as the growth, development, and present status of the discipline. African American Studies validates that African American Studies is a unique and significant discipline—one that intersects almost every academic discipline and cultural construct—and confirms that the discipline has a noteworthy history and a challenging future. The various bodies of knowledge, the philosophical framework, methodological procedures, and theoretical underpinnings of the discipline have never been clearly delineated from an African-centered perspective.

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6. African American Psychology

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CHAPTER 6

African American Psychology

Sesa Wo Suban “Change or transform your character” Symbol of life transformation

The African Antecedent

A major area of inquiry into the psyche of individuals of African descent, the discipline of psychology, seeks to understand the nature of human behavior. In Black Psychology, the emphasis is on the historical narrative of African agents and the pattern of oppression, in opposition to what is perceived to be the conventional Eurocentric perspectives. Maafa (or African Holocaust, Holocaust of Enslavement, or Black Holocaust) is terms used to describe the history and ongoing effects of atrocities inflicted on African people. The Maafa includes the Arab and Atlantic slave trades, and continued through imperialism, colonialism, and other forms of oppression to the present day. When studied as African history, the paradigm emphasizes the legacy of the African Holocaust on African peoples globally.1 In the Maafan world, understanding how African behavior has been affected by various complex environments across the world continues to be an area of major concern for African scholars trained in the disciplines of Africana Studies and psychology. Many of these scholars, many of whom operate within the Association of Black Psychologists, seeks to position their work outside of the epistemological and methodological norms of “Western” psychology proper. The rejection of these various modes of inquiry, which in many ways deny the personhood of African people, must precipitate an alternative way of viewing human behavior.2 For scholars...

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