Is Clinical Psychology ‘Western’? A Case Study of Globalisation of Knowledge.

Guest Speaker:
Miss Lennie Geerlings (James Cook University, Singapore)
Dr Andreas Kalckert (UoRM)
Subject Area:
Date & Time:
Fri, 13. May 2016, 13:00 h - 14:00 h
N3.23, University of Reading Malaysia - EduCity@Iskandar​

The internationalisation of higher education intersects with globalisation of knowledges. In Malaysia and other parts of the Malay Archipelago, the expansion of transnational education is critiqued for supporting a neo-colonial incorporation of knowledge from the west. This demonstrates the need to understand how students, academics, and professionals in this region engage with transnational knowledge and through this engagement counter cultural imperialist tendencies. This presentation addresses this issue through a case study of clinical psychology, the field of psychology that focuses on mental health.

The presentation maps the historical and current exchanges in clinical psychology in the Malay Archipelago. It demonstrates that the discipline continues to be influenced by one-way flows of knowledge from Europe, and more recently, from Australia. This situation raises the critical question how well-suited these originally ‘western’ knowledges of clinical psychology are for ‘Asian’ societies.

This question is addressed through a discussion of the results of two years of ethnographic fieldwork among clinical psychology students, academics, and practitioners in Singapore. Practical examples of the teaching and practice of clinical psychology, quotes from research participants, and critical questions invite the audience to re-imagine the discipline of clinical psychology.

Through the case study of clinical psychology, this presentation demonstrates that academic disciplines are actively constructed as universal and therefore considered transnational, but they are also appropriated and changed. Risks of cultural imperialism in higher education are exacerbated by (post)colonial hierarchies in knowledge production and valuation, discourses of science, and ideas of globalisation. However, knowledges are never separate from culture, and transnational knowledges are always subject to cultural negotiations.

Photo Biography
Lennie is an interdisciplinary researcher and educator with a background in anthropology, psychology, sociology, and social sciences. Her research area is the cultural effects of globalisation of knowledge. She recently conducted comparative research on the training and practice of clinical psychology in three regions of the world. Lennie obtained two undergraduate degrees from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and graduated with a Master’s of Philosophy from the Australian James Cook University. She currently teaches anthropology at James Cook University’s campus in Singapore, and conducts interdisciplinary research related to globalisation, migration, higher education, and culture.
  • Admission is free.​
  • Tea break will be served at 2:00 pm.
  • UoRM staff RSVP by responding to the internal event invitation.
  • All are welcome, RSVP by 9 May 2016.

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