Decolonizing Methodologies

Sharing circles and Anishnaabe symbol-based reflection

Lavallée, L. F. (2009). Practical application of an Indigenous research framework and two qualitative Indigenous research methods: Sharing circles and Anishnaabe symbol-based reflection. International journal of qualitative methods, 8(1), 21-40.

Abstract: Increasingly research involving Indigenous people is being undertaken by Indigenous researchers, who bring forward worldviews that shape the approach of the research, the theoretical and conceptual frameworks, and the epistemology, methodology, and ethics. Many times such research bridges Western practices and Indigenous knowledges; however, bringing together these two worldviews can also present challenges. In this paper the author explores the challenges and lessons learned in the practical application of an Indigenous research framework and qualitative inquiry. Two qualitative Indigenous research methods, sharing circles and Anishnaabe symbol-based reflection, will be discussed.


Conversation method in Indigenous research

Kovach, M. (2010). Conversation method in Indigenous research. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 5(1), 40-48.

Abstract:  In reflecting upon two qualitative research projects incorporating an Indigenous methodology, this article focuses on the use of the conversational method as a means for gathering knowledge through story. The article first provides a theoretical discussion which illustrates that for the conversational method to be identified as an Indigenous research method it must flow from an Indigenous paradigm. The article then moves to an exploration of the conversational method in action and offers reflections on the significance of researcher-in-relation and the inter- relationship between this method, ethics and care.

R-Words: Refusing Research

Tuck, E. and K.W. Yang. (2014b). ‘R-Words: Refusing Research’ in D. Paris and M. T. Winn (Eds.) Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with youth and Communities. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage Publications.

In this paper, Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang develop their three ‘axioms’ or guidelines for refusal, which are briefly mentioned in Tuck in Yang (2014a). The authors suggest that refusals are conducted in three parts: 1) first a research participant refuses to engage in a particular conversation; 2) a researcher agrees to also refuse; and 3) as a result, Indigenous sovereignty over a particular knowledge claim is maintained. After doing so, the chapter examines what it means to engage with ethnographic refusals ‘generatively’, as per Simpson (2007). They suggest that all refusals are generative because they redirect the focus of research towards processes of power, thus decentering narratives of damage or destruction. Doing so sets limits to what issues are known by, and therefore responded to, through a logic of settler colonialism.

Editor’s note: This is an amazing text.

Unbecoming claims: Pedagogies of refusal in qualitative research

Tuck, E. and K.W. Yang. (2014a). Unbecoming claims: Pedagogies of refusal in qualitative research. Qualitative Inquiry 20 (6): 811-818.

This paper examines ‘refusal’ as an anti-colonial method for analyzing and communicating research data. The researchers draw on the work of Indigenous scholars, to argue that so-called ‘objective’ methods of ethnographic data analysis are colonial in that they reduce individuals and experiences to ‘objects’ that are extracted and claimed by the academy. Specifically, the authors assume that: 1) Studies focusing on the pain of marginalized groups are exploitative and unhelpful; 2) That there are some forms of knowledge that should be kept out of the academy; and 3) Research might not be the most appropriate intervention to a given situation. Using these points as a guide, the article provides concrete examples of how refusal can be incorporated into research design (to focus on institutions and power, rather than the ‘social problems’ of marginalized groups), data collection (being attentive to the refusals made by study participants) and analysis (to refuse to report these refusals within the academy).

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.

Ethical Futures in Qualitative Research: Decolonizing the Politics of Knowledge

Denzin, Norman K., and Michael D. Giardina. Ethical Futures in Qualitative Research: Decolonizing the Politics of Knowledge. Left Coast Pr, 2007.

Decolonized methodologies: with key changes in the nature of qualitative research, such as the breakdown of barriers between the researcher and subject, there are emerging ethical issues that researchers have to deal with. Different aspects of ethics in qualitative research are addressed by different experts in the book.These aspects include research ethics for protecting indigenous knowledge, relational ethics in research with intimate others, and challenges in ethical research practice.

Indigenous statistics: A quantitative research methodology

Walter, M., & Andersen, C. (2013). Indigenous statistics: A quantitative research methodology. Left Coast Press.

Maggie Walter and Chris Andersen open up a major new approach to research across the disciplines and applied fields. While qualitative methods have been rigorously critiqued and reformulated, the population statistics relied on by virtually all research on Indigenous peoples continue to be taken for granted as straightforward, transparent numbers. This book dismantles that persistent positivism with a forceful critique, then fills the void with a new paradigm for Indigenous quantitative methods, using concrete examples of research projects from First World Indigenous peoples in the United States, Australia, and Canada. Concise and accessible, it is an ideal supplementary text as well as a core component of the methodological toolkit for anyone conducting Indigenous research or using Indigenous population statistics.