Floretta Boonzaier (SA)

Psychology: To Harm or to Heal? Violence Against Womxn and Psychology’s Complicity

Psychological knowledge is a powerful force in everyday life. It shapes the ways in which we understand ourselves, others and the ways in which see and understand the world more broadly. This talk addresses the ways in which Psychology as a discipline has contributed to our understandings of violence against womxn – how it has shaped the ways in which we understand why violence happens, who is responsible for such violence and, importantly, how womxn respond to the violence against them.


Floretta Boonzaier is Professor in Psychology at the University of Cape Town and Co-director of the Hub for Decolonial Feminist Psychologies in Africa. She works and teaches in feminist, critical, social and decolonial psychologies, with special interests in intersectional subjectivities, youth subjectivites, gendered and sexual identifications, participatory methodologies and gendered and sexual violence in all areas in which she has published. 

She has co-authored South African Women Living with HIV: Global lessons from local voices ( Indiana University Press, 2014) and wrote for Women Voicing Resistance: Discursive and Narrative explorations ( Routledge, 2014); a book that won the 2015 Distinguished Publication Award of the Association for Women in Psychology. Other edited collections include The Gender of Psychology  (with Shefer & Kiguwa) (Juta, 2006); Engaging youth in activism, research and pedagogical praxis. Transnational and intersectional perspectives on gender, sex and race  (with Shefer, Hearn & Ratele) (Routledge, 2018) and Decolonial Feminist Community Psychology  (with van Niekerk) (Springer, 2019).

In 2009 she was awarded the UCT Mandela Fellowship at Harvard University and in 2015 a Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellowship at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. She is past receipient of the runner up award in the South African Department of Science and Technology’s Women in Science Awards, for the category of Distinguished Young Woman Researcher in the Social Sciences or Humanities. She has served on the board of the NGO, RAPCAN, Resources aimed at the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect , and currently on the Advisory Board of the Centre for Narrative Research  at the University of East London, UK. She has been Chair of the Board for the African Gender Institute  at the University of Cape Town and Co-Chair of the Global Africa Group  for the Worldwide Universities Network  and is currently an Executive Committee Member of the Sexuality and Gender Division of the Psychological Society of South Africa.

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