On Psy Scientific Child Observations: Encounters and the (De)Construction of “the African” Personality (1930-1980)

Auteur Pokuaa ODUR-BONSRAH
Directeur /trice Mischa Suter
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s) Isabel Pike Nicole Bourbonnais
Résumé de la thèse

In my dissertation I endeavour to understand how psychologist and anthropologists (who I can "psy" scientists) working across the African continent shaped and utilised theories of the development of children. I further aim to interrogate how these scientists played an important part in constructing ‘the African’ as an object of knowledge. To do so I will bring forth psy practitioners’ research, views and advice on child rearing practices, as well as attitudes and behaviours they observed in childhood.


To present this work, I will identify the history of the psy sciences dealing with children’s development including the anthropology of childhoods and developmental psychology in order to distinguish how constructions of the “African” came to be. I will particularly focus on the constructions of the “African personality,” which was supposed to define the essence “the African”.


I have identified a few pertinent thematic areas where I believe these constructions of “the African” are most glaring. These range are from the imagery and film of children, feeding and weaning, testing children, and parenthood, or rather motherhood. These areas will be assessed using a gendered approach in order to ascertain how difference was perceived and configured at different times and in different places. Specifically, I hope to present a gendered history of science, which looks at how representations of gendered bodies contributed to the production of knowledge, how the psy disciplines and practitioners were in themselves gendered and how psy science projects of constructing the African personality were itself gendered.

Statut au milieu
Délai administratif de soutenance de thèse 2025