Thesis

Decolonizing and re-indigenizing Filipinos in diaspora

Problem: Colonized peoples, like Filipinos, experience psychological and physical consequences resulting from processes of colonization including physical, spiritual, and epistemic violence. Scholars developed frameworks such as historical trauma (HT) and colonial mentality (CM) to understand these harms, which pass from generation to generation, of catastrophic and intentional violence that disrupts communal, familial, and individual health. Filipino Americans are experiencing mental/health disparities, linked to CM, a form of HT. Filipinos have higher rates of depression than Asian and White Americans and nearly half of Filipina adolescents experience suicidal ideation, compared with 13% of high school students. Depression disparities correlate with CM and studies are linking mental health and health. Filipinos also experience disparate rates of hypertension, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, diabetes, and drug and alcohol use. Methodology: This qualitative, phenomenological study builds on decolonizing/indigenizing methods and Sikolohiyang Pilipino, an indigenous Filipino psychology model. The researcher conducted semi-structured interviews with leaders in the decolonizing/indigenizing movement of diasporic Filipinos. The researcher also conducted a member check to increase trustworthiness and rigor of the study. Results: Five themes emerged from the data. First, decolonizing, re-/indigenizing, and the survival of indigenous practices are strategies for resisting and healing from colonization. Second, kapwa mentorship is practiced within the movement including, seeking, receiving, and providing kapwa mentorship as well as promoting intergenerational knowledge exchanges. Third, the individuals as well as the movement of decolonizing and re-/indigenizing are experiencing a trajectory of growth. Fourth, Filipinos in diasopra are experiencing racism and all five of the CM factors. Fifth, and finally, spirituality and connection with the ancestors are important to the leaders of the movement of decolonizing and re-/indigenizing Filipinos in the U.S. Conclusion: Asian Americans are highly understudied, in particular, Filipinos have received strikingly little attention from the research community despite being the fastest growing population in U.S. This study draws from fields of social work, psychology, and indigenous studies and sought expert knowledge within the decolonizing/indigenizing movement of diasporic Filipinos in hopes of identifying effective interventions in healing from colonization.

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