Thomas Teo (born 1963) is a Canadian professor of Historical, Theoretical, and Critical Studies of Psychology at York University in Toronto, Canada. He is a leader in the fields of critical psychology and theoretical psychology.

Thomas Teo
Born1963 (age 58–59)
London, England
NationalityCanada, UK, Austria (previous)
Alma materUniversity of Vienna
LanguageEnglish, German
Main interests
Notable ideas
Psychological humanities, Epistemological violence
Website/ Thomas Teo's Home Page

Academic careerEdit

Teo was born in London, England. He earned his Magister and PhD in psychology from the University of Vienna in Austria. From 1992 to 1995 he worked as a post-doctoral fellow and then as a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, Germany. He started his professorial track at York University in Canada in 1996.

Teo was president of the International Society for Theoretical Psychology (2013–2015), president (2016–2017) of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Society for Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (Division 24), and twice chair of the History and Philosophy of Psychology Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). He is a fellow of APA and CPA. He was editor of the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology (2009–2014). He has served as a co-editor of the Review of General Psychology (2009–2014).[citation needed]

Selected works and thoughtEdit

Teo is a critical-theoretical psychologist who employs metatheory and history to provide a more reflexive understanding of the foundations and trajectories of current psychology while projecting alternatives to the status quo. His research has argued for psychology becoming a self-reflexive discipline that provides disciplinary and social interventions.

Critique of psychologyEdit

Teo has contributed to critical-theoretical work since his early publications on the history of German Critical Psychology,[1] broadening the concept of critical psychology, integrating various streams of critical thought, including feminism, postcolonialism, social constructionism, political theory, indigenous psychology, and hermeneutics, that were applied to ontological, epistemological, ethical, and more recently aesthetic [2] contexts of psychology. Significant critiques of psychology were investigated in The Critique of Psychology: From Kant to Postcolonial Theory,[3] which was the first book to provide a systematic history of the critique of psychology. As an international leader of critical psychology he edited the Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology.[4] In 2015 he summarized the status of critical psychology in the flagship journal of the APA the American Psychologist.[5]

Critique of scientific racism and epistemological violenceEdit

An important critical project that Teo pursued was the study of racism and scientific racism, some of which was published in German.[6] He worked on racism and mixed race and in a series of articles advanced the meaning of the concept of epistemological violence in empirical research.[7][8][9][10] Epistemological violence is committed when interpretations of empirical data implicitly or explicitly constitute the Other as inferior or problematic, despite the fact that alternative interpretations, equally viable, based on the same results, are available.

Critical historyEdit

Teo’s historical work has drawn on history, with history as a means and not as an end.[11] Connecting the philosophy of psychology with the history of psychology he co-authored A Critical History and Philosophy of Psychology: Diversity of Context, Thought, and Practice.[12] Several historical studies focused on twin research, the history of critical psychology, and the history of German psychology.[13][14]

Theoretical psychology and psychological humanitiesEdit

Teo supports the idea of critical psychology as a generative and international movement that provides reflexivity and interference in psychosocial affairs. His latest book Outline of Theoretical Psychology: Critical Investigations[15] discusses basic philosophical problems in the discipline and profession of psychology. By engaging with basic theoretical problems, Teo demonstrates how psychology can avoid its pitfalls and participate as a force for resistance and the good. To do so, Teo has made the argument that psychology needs to draw on the psychological humanities (including history, philosophy, political theory, science and technology studies, etc...) to understand human mental life.[16] He has argued that the development of psychology as a science and the struggle for scientific recognition has disrupted the need to interrogate the discipline and the profession from the critical perspective of the humanities, the arts, and the concept-driven social sciences.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Teo, Thomas (1998). "Klaus Holzkamp and the rise and decline of German Critical Psychology". History of Psychology. 1 (3): 235–253. doi:10.1037/1093-4510.1.3.235. PMID 11620316.
  2. ^ Teo, Thomas (2017). "Subjectivity, aesthetics, and the nexus of injustice: From traditional to street art". In Awad, S. H.; Wagoner, B (eds.). Street art of resistance. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 39–62. ISBN 9783319633305.
  3. ^ Teo, Thomas (2005). The critique of psychology: From Kant to postcolonial theory. Springer. ISBN 978-0387253565. Retrieved 2018-04-08. The critique of psychology: From Kant to postcolonial theory.
  4. ^ Teo, Thomas (2014). Encyclopedia of Critical Psychology. Springer. ISBN 978-1461455820. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  5. ^ Teo, Thomas (2015). "Critical psychology: A geography of intellectual engagement and resistance". American Psychologist. 70 (3): 243–254. doi:10.1037/a0038727. PMID 25621493.
  6. ^ Mecheril, Paul; Teo, Thomas (1997). Psychologie und Rassismus [Psychology and racism]. Reinbek: Rowohlt. ISBN 9783499555695.
  7. ^ Teo, Thomas (2011). "Empirical race psychology and the hermeneutics of epistemological violence". Human Studies. 34 (3): 237–255. doi:10.1007/s10746-011-9179-8.
  8. ^ Teo, Thomas (2010). "What is epistemological violence in the empirical social sciences?". Social and Personality Psychology Compass. 4 (5): 295–303. doi:10.1111/j.1751-9004.2010.00265.x.
  9. ^ Teo, Thomas (2008). "From speculation to epistemological violence in psychology: A critical-hermeneutic reconstruction". Theory & Psychology. 18 (1): 47–67. CiteSeerX doi:10.1177/0959354307086922.
  10. ^ Teo, Thomas (2004). "The historical problematization of "mixed race" in psychological and human-scientific discourses". In Winston, A (ed.). Defining difference: Race and racism in the history of psychology. American Psychological Association. pp. 79–108. CiteSeerX doi:10.1037/10625-004. ISBN 978-1-59147-027-4.
  11. ^ Teo, Thomas (2013). "Agnotology in the dialectics of the history and philosophy of psychology". Theory & Psychology. 23 (6): 840–851. doi:10.1177/0959354313504838.
  12. ^ Walsh, Richard; Teo, Thomas; Baydala, Angelina (2014). A critical history and philosophy of psychology: Diversity of context, thought, and practice. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1107782693. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  13. ^ Teo, Thomas; Ball, Laura (2009). "Twin research, revisionism, and metahistory". History of the Human Sciences. 22 (5): 1–23. doi:10.1177/0952695109345418. PMID 20419900.
  14. ^ Teo, Thomas (2013). "Backlash against American psychology: An indigenous reconstruction of the history of German critical psychology". History of Psychology. 16 (1): 1–18. doi:10.1037/a0030286. PMID 23394178.
  15. ^ Teo, Thomas (2018). Outline of theoretical psychology: Critical investigations. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1137596505. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-04-08.
  16. ^ Teo, Thomas (2017). "From psychological science to the psychological humanities: Building a general theory of subjectivity". Review of General Psychology. 21 (4): 281–291. doi:10.1037/gpr0000132.

External linksEdit