Joining Hands in Solidarity: Mutual Accompaniment & Affective Conviviality

Monday, September 14, 2020 - 1:00pm
Nuria Ciofalo & Mary Watkins

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, psychologists at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California present and discuss their respective work on mutual accompaniment and affective conviviality

Nuria Ciofalo, a Mexican, proposes how we can begin 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 eight years of affective conviviality with inter-generational communities in the Lacandon Rainforest on Mexico’s border with Guatemala.  Decolonial practices provide possibilities to end ecocide and cultural erasure. Solidary collaborations with Indigenous communities allow them to promote sumac kawsay (wellbeing) and to co-construct the Zapatista’s world – in which many worlds are possible.

Mary Watkins, a USian, shares 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. She holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Clinical and Social Psychology from the University of Munich, Germany and a second M.A. in Urban Planning and a Ph.D. in Community Psychology from the University of Hawaii. She has for over 40 years worked with Indigenous communities in Hawaii, and in Northern, Central, and Southern Mexico. Her recent book, Indigenous Psychologies in an Era of Decolonization (2019), was co-written with Maya Lacandon youths and community leaders in Chiapas, Mexico.

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.  She is the author of Mutual Accompaniment and the Creation of the Commons, and co-author of Toward Psychologies of Liberation, among other works.  Her work is at the interfaces between Euro-American depth psychologies and psychologies of liberation from Latin America, Africa and Asia. Her present focus is on psychosocial accompaniment of immigrants in detention and/or faced with possible deportation