Walking, Reading, and Reading about Walking Since the publication of the first edition in , Decolonizing Methodologies has been used to stimulate far-reaching discussions within Indigenous contexts, academic institutions, non-government organizations and other community-based groups about the knowledge claims of disciplines and approaches, about the content of knowledge, about absences, silences and invisibilities of other peoples, about practices and ethics, and about the implications for communities of research. Anthropological research seems to have been particularly offensive: It galls us that Western researchers and intellectuals can assume to know all that it is possible to know of us, on the basis of their brief encounters with some of us. It appalls 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. Who owns it?
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Walking, Reading, and Reading about Walking Since the publication of the first edition in , Decolonizing Methodologies has been used to stimulate far-reaching discussions within Indigenous contexts, academic institutions, non-government organizations and other community-based groups about the knowledge claims of disciplines and approaches, about the content of knowledge, about absences, silences and invisibilities of other peoples, about practices and ethics, and about the implications for communities of research.
Anthropological research seems to have been particularly offensive: It galls us that Western researchers and intellectuals can assume to know all that it is possible to know of us, on the basis of their brief encounters with some of us.
It appalls 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.
Who owns it? Whose interests does it serve? Who will benefit from it? Who has designed its questions and framed its scope? Who will carry it out? Who will write it up? How will its results be disseminated? This does not preclude writing for academic publications but is simply part of an ethical and respectful approach.
There are diverse ways of disseminating knowledge and of ensuring that research reaches the people who have helped make it. There is so little material that addresses the issues indigenous researchers face. They are words of emotion which draw attention to the thousands of ways in which indigenous languages, knowledges and cultures have been silenced or misrepresented, ridiculed or condemned in academic and popular discourses. They are also words which are used in particular sorts of ways or avoided altogether.
In thinking about knowledge and research, however, these are important terms which underpin the practices and styles of research with indigenous peoples. In this image lie images of the Other, start contrasts and subtle nuances, of the ways in which indigenous communities were perceived and dealt with, which make the stories of colonialism part of a grander narrative and yet part also of a very local, very specific experience.
Tuhiwai Smith clearly understands why research continues to be understood as part of the project of imperialism, despite its claims to be justified because it is for the good of humanity: Research within late-modern and late-colonial conditions continues relentlessly and brings with it a new wave of exploration. Researchers enter communities armed with goodwill in their front pockets and patents in their back pockets, they bring medicine into villages and extract blood for genetic analysis.
Other researchers gather traditional herbal and medicinal remedies and remove them for analysis in laboratories around the world. Still others collect the intangibles: the belief systems and ideas about healing, about the universe, about relationships and ways of organizing, and the practices and rituals which go alongside such beliefs, such as sweat lodges, massage techniques, chanting, hanging crystals and wearing certain colours.
By lacking such virtues we disqualified ourselves, not just from civilization but from humanity itself. The act, let alone the art and science, of theorizing our own existence and realities is not something which many indigenous people assume is possible.
While this has been taken up by writers of fiction, many indigenous scholars who work in the social and other sciences struggle to write, theorize and research as indigenous scholars.
And Indigenous versions of history are an important part of that struggle. Our colonial experience traps us in the project of modernity. This does not mean that we do not understand or employ multiple discourses, or act in incredibly contradictory ways, or exercise power ourselves in multiple ways.
It means that there is unfinished business, that we are still being colonized and know it , and that we are still searching for justice. It is in this sense that the sites visited in this book begin with a critique of a Western view of history. Telling our stories from the past, reclaiming the past, giving testimony to the injustices of the past are all strategies which are commonly employed by indigenous peoples struggling for justice.
Indigenous people are typically not included in the audience of texts produced in the UK, the US, or in western Europe Uncritical academic writing—or writing academically in uncritical ways—can reinforce colonial or imperial ideas In all academic disciplines, research is linked to theory; it adds to or is generated from theoretical understandings Theory is important for Indigenous peoples, she argues: At the very least it helps make sense of reality.
It enables us to make assumptions and predictions about the world in which we live. It contains within it a method or methods for selecting and arranging, for prioritizing and legitimating what we see and do. Theory enables us to deal with contradictions and uncertainties. Perhaps more significantly, it gives us space to plan, to strategize, to take greater control over our resistances. The language of a theory can also be used as a way of organizing and determining action.
It helps us to interpret what is being told to us, and to predict the consequences of what is being promised. Theory can also protect us because it contains within it a way of putting reality into perspective. If it is a good theory it also allows for new ideas and ways of looking at things to be incorporated constantly, without the need to search constantly for new theories.
For Indigenous peoples, Tuhiwai Smith contends, research is a site of struggle: As a site of struggle research has a significance for indigenous peoples that is embedded in our history under the gaze of Western imperialism and Western science.
It is framed by our attempts to escape the penetration and surveillance of that gaze whilst simultaneously reordering and reconstituting ourselves as indigenous human beings in a state of ongoing crisis. Research has not been neutral in its objectification of the Other.
Objectification is a process of dehumanization. In its clear links to Western knowledge research has generated a particular relationship to indigenous peoples which continues to be problematic. At the same time, however, new pressures which have resulted from our own politics of self-determination, of wanting greater participation in, or control over, what happens to us, and from changes in the global environment, have meant that there is a much more active and knowing engagement in the activity of research by indigenous peoples.
The rules governing such evaluation are often implicit, and power is expressed both explicitly and implicitly Indigenous resistance to those rules brings together complex sets of ideas, such as in the claim brought by Maori women to the Waitangi Tribunal in New Zealand in That separation led to the development of a dualism between mind and body throughout Western philosophy There were also different conceptions of time and the way time was organized, especially in the West in the nineteenth century time organized because of capitalism and other factors , versus the way time was organized in other parts of the world In this process, Indigenous peoples became objects of research, without voices or the ability to contribute to science A variety of things—territories, new species of flora and fauna, mineral resources, and cultures—were collected, rearranged, represented and redistributed The colonizers also introduced new species of plants and animals to colonies, which interfered in their ecologies and led to extinctions and to a colonization by weeds The effects of colonization and the ideology of social Darwinism led to the notion that Indigenous peoples were destined to die out That absolution has included a denial of responsibility for the treatment of Indigenous children in colonial educational systems.
Tuhiwai Smith addresses questions of authenticity and essentialism in a colonial context: The belief in an authentic self is framed within humanism but has been politicized by the colonized world in ways which invoke simultaneous meanings; it does appeal to an idealized past when there was no colonizer, to our strengths in surviving thus far, to our language as an uninterrupted link to our histories, to the ownership of our lands, to our abilities to create and control our own life and death, to a sense of balance among ourselves and with the environment, to our authentic selves as a people.
Although this may seem overly idealized, these symbolic appeals remain strategically important in political struggles. Nor can they be complicated, internally diverse or contradictory. But the essence of a person is also discussed in relation to indigenous concepts of spirituality.
In these views, the essence of a person has a genealogy which can be traced back to an earth parent. The significance of place, of land, of landscape, of other things in the universe, in defining the very essence of a people, makes for a very different rendering of the term essentialism as used by indigenous peoples.
The values, attitudes, concepts and language embedded in beliefs about spirituality represent, in many cases, the clearest contrast and mark of difference between indigenous peoples and the West. It is one of the few parts of ourselves which the West cannot decipher, cannot understand and cannot control. There has been recent theorizing of the significance of travel, and of location, on shaping Western understandings of the Other and producing more critical understandings of the nature of theory.
Those theories of disappearance ignored the effect of colonization on those who were supposedly disappearing: While Western theories and academics were describing, defining and explaining cultural demise, however, indigenous peoples were having their lands and resources systematically stripped by the state; were becoming ever more marginalized; and were subjected to the layers of colonialism imposed through economic and social policies.
This failure of research, and of the academic community, to address the real social issues of Maori was recalled in later times when indigenous disquiet became more politicized and sophisticated. Very direct confrontations took place between Maori and some academic communities.
Such confrontations have also occurred in Australia and other parts of the indigenous world, resulting in much more active resistances by communities to the presence and activities of researchers. The more difficult claims have attempted to establish recognition of indigenous spirituality in Western law.
Even when evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of an indigenous case, there are often statutes of limitation which determine how far back in time a claim can reach, or there are international agreements between states, or some institutions just refuse in principle to consider the possibility that an indigenous group have a claim at all. As a trade, it has no concern for the peoples who originally produced the ideas or images, or with how and why they produced those ways of knowing. One place where different knowledges about Indigenous peoples intersect in in discussions of the problem of a particular Indigenous group.
This kind of discussion is a recurrent theme in all imperial and colonial attempts to deal with indigenous peoples. It originates within the wider discourses of racism, sexism and other forms of positioning the Other. Its neatness and simplicity gives the term its power and durability.
She writes that, in the current moment, [w]hile the West might be experiencing fragmentation, the process of fragmentation known under its older guise as colonization is well known to indigenous peoples. We can talk about the fragmentation of lands and cultures. We know what it is like to have our identities regulated by laws and our languages and customs removed from our lives.
Fragmentation is not an indigenous project; it is something we are recovering from. While shifts are occurring in the ways in which we indigenous peoples put ourselves back together again, the greater project is about recentring indigenous identities on a larger scale.
Adventurers now hunt the sources of viral diseases, prospectors mine for genetic diversity and pirates raid ecological systems for new wealth, capturing virgin plants and pillaging the odd jungle here and there. The imperial armies assemble under the authority of the United Nations defending the principles of freedom, democracy and the rights of capital.
As imperialism has changed, so too have Indigenous peoples: they have regrouped, learned from past experiences, and mobilized strategically around new alliances.
The elders, the women and various dissenting voices within indigenous communities maintain a collective memory and critical conscience of past experiences.
Many indigenous communities are spaces of hope and possibilities, despite the enormous odds aligned against them. There have been changes in research as well. To accept a gift and to reciprocate gives dignity to the receiver. In this sense it might also be described as a modernist resistance struggle. This has entailed survival from the effects of a sustained war with the colonizers, from the devastation of diseases, from the dislocation from lands and territories, from the oppressions of living under unjust regimes; survival at a sheer basic physical level and as peoples with our own distinctive languages and cultures.
Different communities have had different priorities: some communities have focused on cultural revitalization, while others have tried to reorganize political relations with the state —sometimes with non-Indigenous allies In research, themes which emerged in the s have developed since Indigenous research focuses on self-determination: Self-determination in a research agenda becomes something more than a political goal.
It becomes a goal of social justice which is expressed through and across a wide range of psychological, social, cultural and economic terrains. It necessarily involves the processes of transformation, of decolonization, of healing and of mobilization as peoples. The processes, approaches and methodologies—while dynamic and open to different influences and possibilities—are critical elements of a strategic research agenda.
That cynicism means that Indigenous communities will expect researchers to be clear and detailed about the likely benefits of their research
Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples
Its literally handbook for just that. People of indigenous backgrounds of all sorts should consider this book in their process of cultural self-determiantion. Linda Tuhiwai-Smith is awesome I hella want to be able to write and process at the level. The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 provides a critique of Western research practices and reveals its colonising underbelly. The author demonstrates the imperialistic impact of racist attitudes and practices on indigenous peoples across the world that continues today. In part two Linda Tuhiwal Smith, a Maori professor of research constructs a radical alternative methodology rooted in commitment to This is an important book for anyone who is interested in research for social justice.
In this important book, Linda Tuhiwai Smith meets a formidable challenge. In pages she presents a cogent critique not only of anthropology, but of the cultural evolution of the entire Western concept of research. The author describes the devastating effects of such research on indigenous peoples and articulates a new Indigenous Research Agenda which aims to replace former Western academic methods. An indigenous woman, the daughter of a Maori anthropologist, she grew up in a world in which science and Maori beliefs and practices coexisted. The book is fueled by anger in addition to a thorough knowledge of the literature on which rests the Western tradition of classifying and representing the other. As she indicates, "The book is written primarily to help ourselves. Imperialism also dominated the mental universe of the colonized and has continued to do so long after independence was gained.
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