What do we mean by decolonizing research strategies?

Zavala, M. (2013). What do we mean by decolonizing research strategies? Lessons from decolonizing, Indigenous research projects in New Zealand and Latin America. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education, and Society 2 (1): 55-71.

This methodology paper draws on previous texts about decolonizing methodologies and the author’s own experiences as an Indigenous researcher and activist to argue that decolonization is less about method and more about providing space for Indigenous people and voices. Zavala examines several grassroots Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects, which he describes as spaces that occlude colonial, academic decision making practices. He then contrasts the PAR research methods advocated for by Tuhiwai Smith with those that he engages with in Latin America. While the two approaches to PAR engage in very different, traditional vs non-traditional, research methods, they have similar decolonial outcomes in that they place Indigenous sovereignty at the centre of decision-making practices. He concludes by stating that decolonial research is not contingent on a given method but requires always honouring the perspectives and interests of the communities and individuals being studied. Zavala’s analysis suggests that it is possible for settler and university-affiliated researchers to engage in decolonial work. How this is done must be decided through ongoing collaboration and consultation with communities and individual research participants.

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