chapter  9
42 Pages

Racism at bay: Psychology and `race' 1945±1969

The immediate post-war years were dominated by two historical factors that, with a few exceptions, effectively suppressed whatever aspirations towards overtly racialist theorising and research were left within mainstream Psychology: the Holocaust and the US Civil Rights movement. This suppression was reinforced by the continued elaboration of those alternative `paradigms' identi®ed previously, particularly the Culture and Personality school and the study of `race prejudice' in Social Psychology. In the USA, moreover, the `applied and intra-racial' genre had initiated what is today known as `Black Psychology', albeit small in size and as yet insuf®ciently intellectually secure to radically challenge orthodox methodologies and conceptual frameworks. Even if somewhat lethargically, professional Psychology's ethnic composition was also diversifying. More generally, the 1940s saw the `nature±nurture' issue acquire clear-cut ideological connotations, strong adherence to nativist positions becoming seen as inherently right-wing and potentially racist. During the period under consideration here overt racism was clearly at bay within US Psychology. At the same time, anti-racist Psychology's understanding of the issue can now be seen to have retained a considerable degree of naivety, the erosion of which only began in earnest in the 1970s. It is now fully apparent, as we will be seeing, that a host of implicitly racist, racialist, and ethnocentric assumptions persisted undiagnosed among many of even the most antiracist psychologists.