Dissertation Title:

Radical Love Traditions: Exploring the Decolonial Turn in Maternal Healthcare for Black Women


Amber McZeal

Date, Time & Place:

August 26, 2022 at 12:00 pm


This research explores the phenomenon of maternal mortality in the United States and the racial health disparities embedded within it, with an emphasis on racism as the root cause. Among developed countries in the global north, the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate, which affects Black women disproportionately. Black women die in childbirth at three times the rate of other women. As with most racial health disparities, researchers who ascribe race as the root cause perpetuate damage-centered narratives which promote medical racism by pathologizing Black people through subtle and direct assertions of biological inferiority. Through a decolonial theoretical framework and African Indigenous archetypal methodology, the study investigates how and in what ways maternal healthcare practices designed to address racial disparities may be transformed, with an emphasis on shifting from race to racism as the root cause in disparities. Through digital storytelling and critical performance ethnography, the study offers new configurations around concepts of well-being, widening both the critical and cultural terrain upon which wellness is premised. From the co-research process with Black mothers and radical reproductive justice medical practitioners, this work pushes forward a theory and practice of decolonial community depth psychology in maternal health settings.


  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Community, Liberation, and Eco-Psychology, P, 2015
  • Chair: Dr. Nuria Ciofalo
  • Reader: Dr. Fanny Brewster
  • External Reader: Dr. Nelson Maldonado-Torres
  • Keywords: Decoloniality, African Traditional Religions, Somatic Psychology, Reproductive Justice, African Indigenous Archetypal Psychology