Joining Hands in Solidarity: Mutual Accompaniment and Affective Conviviality

By Bob Stone

 

Centuries of colonial and capitalist oppression and exploitation not only threaten global ecocide but—some indigenous groups aside—have diminished humanity’s powers to collectively save our earthly home. To strengthen those powers, a group of psychologists and their students are spreading horizontal relationships that liberate needed but repressed capacities. 

 

Mary Watkins and Nuria Ciofalo are psychologists at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. They will present and discuss their respective work on mutual accompaniment and affective conviviality. 

 

Nuria Ciofalo, a Mexican, is opening a new era of decoloniality by stopping erasure of contributions from the global south that respect nature’s sacredness, cultivate spirituality, and keep harmony among humans and with other-than-human species. Such indigenous psychologies delinked from Euro-American coloniality were learned in 8 years of affective conviviality with intergenerational communities in the Lacandon rainforest on Mexico’s border with Guatemala. Decolonial practices co-constructed “the other” sociality, ending ecocide and cultural erasure. Solidary collaborations with indigenous communities promoted sumac kawsay (wellbeing) and co-constructed the Zapatista’s world, in which many worlds are possible. 

 

Mary Watkins will share principles of mutual accompaniment. Ecopsychosocial accompaniment is a mode of responsive assistance that combines psychosocial understanding with political and cultural action. Accompaniment—based in horizontality, interdependence, and the potential for mutuality—moves away from hierarchical, unidirectional “helping profession” approaches that decontextualize suffering. She lays out a powerful paradigm of mutual solidarity with profound implications for creating commons in the face of societal division and indifference to social misery.

 

Nuria Ciofalo is core professor of the Community, Liberation, Indigenous, and Eco- Psychologies specialization at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

 

Mary Watkins, Ph.D., is chair of the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program, a founding co-chair of its Community, Liberation, Indigenous, and Eco-Psychologies Specialization, and Coordinator of Community and Ecological Fieldwork at Pacifica Graduate Institute. 

 

This webinar is part of a weekly series on a variety of social issues featuring thought-provoking thinkers. The Center for Global Justice is devoted to research and learning for a better world. We offer these webinars every Mon at 1pm. Tune in at www.globaljusticecenter.org. You can also view past programs there.

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