Decolonizing Methodologies-additional notes on Smith

Decolonizing Methodologies
Research and Indigenous Peoples
• The term research is one of the ‘dirtiest’ words in the
indigenous world’s vocabulary
• It is linked to European imperialism and colonialism
• “It appals us that the West can desire, extract and claim
ownership of our ways of knowing, our imagery, the things
we create and produce, and then simultaneously reject the
people who created and developed those ideas and seek to
deny them further opportunities to be creators of their
own culture and own nations.” (1)
• “research is one of the ways in which the underlying code
of imperialism and colonialism is both regulated and
realized.” (7)
How it works to deny
• Through a collective memory about the ways in which
knowledge about indigenous peoples was collected,
classified, and then represented back to the West- AND
then- through the eyes of the West- retold back to
those who have been colonized.
• This is what Said called in Orientalism the Western
discourse about the other.
• For Said: this is supported by: “institutions, vocabulary,
scholarhsip, imagry, doctrines, even colonial
beaurocracies and colonial styles.” (Said, 2)
Smith’s Argument
• Smith argues that the CURRENT material conditions of
poverty, inequality, chronic ill health, and poor
educational opportunities are part of a larger
HISTORICAL narrative
• This narrative is one of European Imperialism and
• One that is as ideological as it is factual
• One that is as powerful now as it was a century ago
• One that is as “hidden” in academic pursuits of
research and the classification of knowledge as it is
“obvious” in the everyday lives of idigenous people
today in both the West and in Developing Nations
Is this a dead end? Has the story
already been told?
• Smith argues that Indigenous communities
have other stories to tell- alternate histories• Stories that differ from Western categories of
knowledge and distinction
• What she calls “counter stories” (2)
“To acquiesce is to lose ourselves entirely and implicitly agree with
all that has been said about us. To resist is to retrench the
margins, retrieve what we were and remake ourselves. The past,
our stories local and global, the present, our communities,
cultures, languages and social practices –a all may be spaces of
marginalization, but they have also become spaces of resistance
and hope.” (4)
• “I would argue that ‘we’, idigenous peoples ,
people of ‘colour’, the Other, however we are
named, have a presence in the Western
imagination, in its fibre and texture, in its
sense of itself, in its language, in its silences
and shadows, its margins and intersections.”
So then, how do we research?
• Research with indigenous communities posing a number of
insider/outsider issues
• Research is NOT simply an innocent and academic pursuit. It is always a
reflection of the social and political ideologies of the institutions (and
individuals) who design, request, support, fund, oversee, participate in,
and ultimately publish the research project.
• RESEARHC IS AN ACTIVE space. And that means it is then a space of
contestation. It is not simply something we just do.
• We cant erase the barriers of distinction and the social expectations and
myths that accompany these. AND therefore as researchers, we must
acknowledge them, make them overtly known, and then work to create a
space of dialogue in spite of difference that acknowledges the
ackwardness of power, represenationa, and reality- instead of a research
paradigm that seeks to hide these in the pursuit of a more “trithful” or
“expressive” research environment.
• Insiders are just that- Outsiders too. This is why we must take “the most
adult status.”
The term “indigenous peoples”
• Smith acknowledges that the term
“indigenous” is problematic because it
universalizes many distinct groups of people
under one collective heading.
• And that many of the groups referred to as
indigenous have themselves used different
terms to name themselves- and they have
experienced different relationships and
histories under imperialism.
So why use it?
• The term itself is recent.
• Emerged in 1970s in Canada/US out of the
American Indian Movement and Canadian Indian
Brotherhood (7)
• Its a term that suggests that the local struggles of
marginalized groups/populations are part of
larger global struggles.
• Hence the (s) on - peoples. To (a) allow for selfdetermination and also to (b) remind us that the
local experiences differ BUT still remain
Conducting research
• Questions to ask and consider in the research process
(taken verbatim from p. 10):
1. Whose research is it?
2. Who owns it?
3. Whose interests does it serve?
4. Who will benefit from it?
5. Who has designed its questions and framed its scope?
6. Who will carry it out?
7. Who will write it up?
8. How will its results be disseminated?
Disseminating the research
Smith argues that the pricess of disseminating hte
knowledge also nees to be culturally sensitive
and appropriate- to ensure that the research
reaches the people who helped to make it! (15)
• Reporting back
– Its not a one off
– You need to bring it back to them
• Sharing knowledge
– Its not just about pamphlet type distribution but
about a collective interaction- a long term and
ongoing dialouge.
Notes for further work
Ch 2
• Stuart halls defn of the west: p,.42
• Instead of core vs periphery: how about the
line, the centre, and the outside p. 53
• Defn of research through imperial eyes p. 56
• Summary of ch 2. p57
Notes for further work
• Ch 3• Discussion of colonizing of knowledge and the
mind p. 59
• What is authenticity and essentialism (72)
• And the ways in which these terms take on
different and antithetical values as spaces of
resistance in indigenous cultures (73-73)
Notes for further work
• Ch4
• The application of travelling theory/tourism/and voyeurism
to unpacking the imperialism of indigenous peoples
• The naming of the word and of the world (81)
• Trading the other- as the first form of globalization (88-90)
• Defn of “the indigenous problem” (90-91)
• “Problematizng the indigenous is a Western obsession.”
(91) AND how this frames the research agenda and hides
the history, structural policies and ideologies at play in the
marginalization of indigenous peoples. (92)
Notes for further work
• Ch 5
• The problem with “post colonial” is that is suggests the
colonizer has left! (98-99)
• The argument that “technology as saviour” in current
politicla discourse is what contineusto place indigenous
peoples on the margin- in that indigenous cultures sees
the planet as a living entity.
• “the language of imperialism may have changed, the
specific targets of colonization may have shifted and
indigenous groups may be better informed, but
imperialism still exists. (100)- see pp100-103 “10 ways
to be researched (colonized)” *in particular #10
Notes for further work
Ch 6
Defn of what is idigenous research (107)
Defn of what makes an indigenous peoples project (110)
Defn of the research agenda for indigenous projects (115117)
• A list of Kaupapa Maori practices –suggestions for ethical
research (120) – all based on respect
• “The denial by the West of humanity to indigenous
peoples, the denial of citizenship and human rights, the
denial of the right to self-determination – all these
demonstrate palpably the enormous lack of respect which
has marked the relations of indigenous and non-indigenous
peoples.” (120)
Notes for further work
• Ch 7
• 2 distinct pathways through which an indigenous research project are
advanced community action projects and research centres. They are not
mutually exclusive but are intertwined and inform each other at a number
of different levels (125)
• Community action projects (125-128)
• *there is an emphasis on process not results with PROCESS defined as
“methodology AND method” (128)
• Research Centres ( 129-134: no need to re-read its a case study)
• On the ethics and practices of soliciting consent in the research process
• On negotiating an entry point into the culture (137)
• On being an insider and an outsider in the research process (137-140) in
particular a great example of being reflexive on your own outsider status
see p. 138, and a nice discussion on insider as authority? On p. 139
• On why indigenous research is a highly political activity (140)
Notes for furtherwork
• Ch 8
• A great overview ofwhat is indigenous
research (142)
• The defn of method vs methodology (143)
• Examples of 25 indigenous projects (143-161)
in particular #12 (p150-151) on
“representing” and #18 (p.156) on
Notes for further research
Ch 9
Defn of positivism (164)
A different but very good defn of method vs methodology (164)
Questions of critical theory being asked at the ground level- great quote
• Post positivism (167)
• On the point of whose knowledge? And representation vs reality: “the
problem is not simply about redressing the past. Much of what has been
written about the Maori people... Has become part of a body of common
knowledge that is take for granted. Hence the uphill task is challenge
existing knowledge that is primarily ideological or false.” (170)
• “the whole process of colonization can be viewed as a stripping away of
our mana (our standing in our own eyes) and an undermining of our
rangatiratanga (our ability and right to determine our destinies).
Research is an important part of the colonization process because it is
concerned with defining legitimate knowledge.” (173)
Ch 9 cont.
• On research methodology and its purpose and
role (173)
• The questions that need to be asked:
Who defined the research problem?
For Whom is this study worthy and relevant? Who says so?
What knowledge and community will gain from this study?
What knowledge will the researcher gain form this study?
What are some likely positive outcomes from this study?
What are some possible negative outcomes?
How can the negative outcomes be eliminated?
To whom is the researcher accountable?
What processes are in place to support the research, the researched, and the
researcher? (173)
Ch 9 cont
• On the role of the researcher taking the most adult
status and the responsibility of the researcher to do so
• Graham Smith’s four models for research which is
culturally appropriate for non indigenous researchers:
The mentoring model
The adoption model
The power sharing model
Empowering outcomes model (177)
The dangers and failures of the empowering
outcomes model (178)
Defn of Bicultural or partnership research (178)
Notes for further research
• ch 10
• On the successes or failures of critical theory to the
Kaupapa Maori research projects (186, 188)
• Anti-postivist/the most adult status (186-187)
• “The problem is not just that the positivist science is
well established institutionally and theoretically, but it
has a connectedness at a common sense level with the
rest of society who, generally speaking, take for
granted the hegemony of its methods and leadership in
the search of knowledge. As far as many people are
concerned, research is positivist; it cannot be anything
else.” (189)
Final thoughts
• Smith ends the book (in ch 10) with a line that so perfectly
sums up exactly WHY the role of children in institutions like
education and more specifically politics MUST change:
• “When indigenous peoples become the researchers and
not merely the researched, the activity of research is
transformed. Questions are framed differently, priorities
are ranked differently, problems are defined differently,
people participate on different terms.” (193).
• Or as she articulates in her conclusion:
• “how can research ever address our needs as indigenous
peoples if our questions are never taken seriously?” (198)

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