Negotiating biculturalism : deconstructing pākehā subjectivity : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Turitea Campus, Aotearoa/New Zealand
This thesis engages social constructionist epistemology, deconstruction and discourse analysis to constitute a reading of bicultural relations between māori and pākehā in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In the opening chapters, the theoretical and political framework of the project is developed and a critique of race/ethnicity/culture unfolds psychology as replete with eurocentrisms. Practices of biculturalism become increasingly challenging for mental health professionals (psychologists) in this context. For the most part, bicultural dialogue struggles to have an audience with pākehā. In Royal's (1998) terms, this implies that the meeting house for biculturalism is empty. pākehā mental health practitioners who were considered to be engaging in bicultural practices were interviewed about cultural identity, the meanings and practices of biculturalism, and their personal experiences of engaging in bicultural practices. The texts of these conversations were read through deconstructive discourse analysis to articulate the implications of their accounts for the future of bicultural practice in psychology. These readings consider how the kaikōorero negotiate being pākehā both within available pākehā (colonial) positions and beyond into new (postcolonial) subject positions. Taking up a postcolonial subject position puts kaikōrero in the uncomfortable and unfamiliar place of acknowledging their power. Negotiating pākehā subjectivity with a colonial past, a contemporary (pākehā) mainstream, and exploring new relationships with māori is a difficult and complicated process. In recognising the privileges of being pākehā the marginalisation of māori is mutually constructed. Some of the kaikōrero used the repertoire/metaphor of a journey when they talked of their bicultural development. Others talked of a distinct/discrete transformation of subjective experience/understanding. Discontent with the present state of biculturalism was mediated by positive aspirations for future relationships that were consultative, collaborative and collegial.