(p. xvii) Acknowledgments
(p. xvii) Acknowledgments
I acknowledge the influence of the many teachers, mentors, colleagues, and students whose views have shaped my own continued commitment to social justice. I especially acknowledge my colleagues at the University of California, Santa Cruz, an institution whose foundational ideals remain anchored in social justice and progressive intellectual work. The students enrolled in my graduate seminar on Social Justice and the Individual from 2014 to 2016 provided inspiration as we read, discussed, and critically debated numerous works and ideas.
I thank Abby Gross (Senior Editor) and Courtney McCarroll (Assistant Editor) at Oxford University Press for their constant support, encouragement, and patience as I undertook this ambitious volume as a sole editor. I acknowledge the editorial assistance of Andrew Pilecki, Zeneva Alexandra Schindler, and Erin Toolis. Several sources of funding provided release from teaching that facilitated work on this volume, including a fellowship from the Spencer Foundation/National Academy of Education (during which time the proposal for the volume was developed) and more recently a Scholar Award from the William T. Grant Foundation.
This volume is dedicated to two scholars of social justice who made a lasting impact on me. At a time in which I had become disenchanted with my training as a clinical psychologist and had come to believe that clinical work had significant limitations to effect social change, I had the privilege to meet Bert Cohler. Immediately, I felt a kind of intellectual kinship I had never previously experienced, as we discussed and debated the limitations of dominant scientific paradigms in psychology over beers at a pub on Chicago’s North Side. This meeting represented a turning point in both my professional trajectory and my own personal narrative of identity (a topic Bert had devoted so much of his life to study). I abandoned clinical psychology to pursue training in the interdisciplinary Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago, where I was able to develop my own more liberated form of identity as a social scientist. There I tackled challenging issues of social import by using multiple methods and informed by multiple disciplinary perspectives. At Chicago, I was taught to focus on problems of social relevance, using the tools of social science. This training led me to look at social problems such as ethnopolitical conflict or prejudice against sexual minorities not confined by the paradigms of particular disciplines but rather from the standpoint of those experiencing injustice. I ultimately became a social psychologist in the “Lewinian” model, committed to both theory and application, cognizant of the dynamic interaction between persons and settings, and diverse and eclectic in the tools I bring to social scientific inquiry. This scholarly identity was and continues to be an ideal match for the kind of social psychologist we imagine at Santa Cruz, an institution whose history is intimately linked to issues of social justice and transdisciplinary inquiry. The redwoods have become a fitting home for me personally, and they remain a sanctuary for progressive and deviant scholarship. I owe much of my success to reach these redwoods to Bert Cohler and his mentorship.
Aparna Sharma was a social-community psychologist in Chicago who made a major impact on me and my commitment to social justice research. A friend and colleague from my early training in clinical psychology, Aparna informed the global, intersectional approach to social justice issues I take. Beyond intellectual influence, though, she was (p. xviii) a confidant and source of great emotional support to me in my life. Her early death represented a great loss not just for her family and friends but also the field of social and community psychology. I trust this volume would make her proud, though I also suspect she would have some stimulating critiques, for it was through our ability to have open, critical dialogue that we both flourished as friends and colleagues.
Finally, I thank my family members (both of origin and chosen) for their support over the years this volume was completed. Work on the volume corresponded with a period of very significant personal life transition, including losses and gains, yet the concept of family and my understanding of it has expanded in very meaningful ways during this period. I have been privileged to feel the love and support of many as I have undertaken bold projects in both my personal and professional life over the past several years.
Below his signature appeared this quotation in every email Bert Cohler sent:
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Dante, The Inferno
I hope that this volume informs and inspires new generations of social psychologists to commit to a paradigm of inquiry that works for social justice and eschews notions of “neutrality” in matters of the social and political world.
Phillip L. Hammack
Santa Cruz, California