Kovach (2010). Indigenous and Qualitative Inquiry: A Round Dance? (Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts.)

Kovach, M. (2010). Indigenous and Qualitative Inquiry: A Round Dance? In Indigenous Methodologies: Characteristics, Conversations, and Contexts (pp. 23-38). University of Toronto Press.

“With colonization, Indigenous people were forced to forfeit their languages, and so a majority of Indigenous people in Canada now have English as their first language. Having a common language, however, has not served to increase cultural understandings. … a common language is not the panacea for a common understanding.” (p 24)

“Tensions arise from the need to attach meaning to lofty and effervescent words like _truth_ and _knowledge_. It seems that the interpretative nature of understanding fastens itself to the most intimate aspects of our experience, connecting us enough to find both foe and brethren.” (p 24)

[“The Backdrop of Qualitative Research” (p 25) …]

“Denzin and Lincoln add to this understanding of qualitative research by saying: ‘Qualitative researchers stress the socially constructed nature of reality, the intimate relationship between the researcher and what is studied, and the situational constraints that shape inquiry’ (2003: 13). … Rossman and Rallis (2003) accentuate the reflexivity of qualitative research. It is an approach, they argue, that demands that researchers be continually aware of their own biases as a means of consistently locating themselves in the research.” (p 26)

“Because qualitative research is interpretive, the stories of both the researcher and the research participants are reflected in the meanings being made.” (p 26)

“… the use of a self-reflective narrative research process, in conjunction with a philosophy that honours multiple truths, is congruent with a research approach that seeks _nisitohtamowin_ (a Cree word for understanding) or ‘self-in-relation’ (Graveline, 1998: 57). … Participatory action research, a methodology found within the transformative paradigm, has utilized qualitative approaches, offering a research theory, method, and action for giving back to a community through research as praxis (McTaggart, 1997; Stringer, 1999).” (p 27)

“While critical theory and postmodern analysis have created space within Western science for representation, voice, and a multiplicity of truths, the essentialism of Western thought pervading research has not been fully challenged in the academy.” (p 28)

[Do universities spring from democratic will? Do we legitimize their monopoly on knowledge production through our participation within them? Why try to change them if parallel institutions could possibly eclipse sooner the epistemic hegemony of colonial universities? (See, for example, Quest University, Squamish, BC) –oki] (p 28)

[Why is the number seven significant? –oki] (p 29)

[“An Insider/Outsider Relationship” (p 30) …]

“From another angle, introducing Indigenous knowledges into any form of academic discourse (research or otherwise) must ethically include the influence of the colonial relationships, thereby introducing a decolonizing perspective to a critical paradigm. Those active in Indigenous community research will look to a form of participatory action research methodology. From this juncture, one could argue that Indigenous inquiry fits within a transformative paradigm. Seemingly, Indigenous methodologies may simply be a subcategory of a Western paradigm that utilizes qualitative research approaches.” (p 30)

“Indigenous knowledges have a fluidity and motion that is manifested in the distinctive structure of tribal languages. They resist the culturally imbued constructs of the English language, and from this perspective alone Western research and Indigenous inquiry can walk together only so far. This is a significant difficulty for all those, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, who do not speak a tribal language yet are inquiring into the nature of tribal knowledges.” (p 30)

“In commenting on the ‘insider’ space, Indigenous methodologies share two interrelated characteristics with other qualitative approaches (e.g., feminist methodologies and appreciative inquiry): (a) both approaches are relational, and (b) both approaches must show evidence of process and content. … Rossman and Rallis submit that ‘qualitative research is quintessentially interactive’ (2003: 35). They go on to suggest that there must be a direct contact between researcher and research participants that includes the complex and varied responses that only an ongoing relationship can achieve.” (p 32)

“_Reflexivity_ is the term often utilized within a variety of qualitative research approaches to reference the relational. Reflexivity is the researcher’s own self-reflection in the meaningmaking process.” (p 32)

“… Gergen and Gergen … (2003: 579). In postmodern research, reflexivity is a central component of the research process. It requires an awareness of the self in creating knowledge (ibid.). In anti-oppressive approaches, self-reflection is described as ‘critical reflexivity,’ which purposefully gives space for the political examination of location and privilege (Herising, 2005: 136).” (p 33)

“… reflexivity is associated with validity as a means of identifying bias within the research.” (p 33)

“What does it mean to privilege human-centric knowledge?” (p 34)

“As Wilson affirms, as a researcher ‘you are answering to all your relations when you are doing research’ (2001: 177, emphasis in original). Indigenous scholar Marie Battiste (2007) suggests that one of the most critical aspects of Indigenous research is the [page break] ethical responsibility to ensure that Indigenous knowledges and people are not exploited.” (p 35-36)

[“Indicators and Issues within Indigenous Methodologies” (p 36) …]

“Indigenous methods do not flow from Western philosophy; they flow from tribal epistemologies.” (p 36)

“Indigenous peoples have never been appreciative of a pan-Indigenous approach that attempts to homogenize our tribal practices.” (p 37)

“As Indigenous people, we understand each other because we share a worldview that holds common, enduring beliefs about the world. As Indigenous scholar Leroy Little Bear states, ‘there is enough similarity among North American Indian philosophies to apply concepts generally’ (2000: 79).” (p 37)

“… not all research in Indigenous contexts will require an Indigenous methodological approach; it depends upon the inquiry question.” (p 38)

Selected References

  • Battiste, M. (2007). Research ethics for protecting Indigenous knowledge and heritage: Institutional and researcher responsibilities. In N. Denzin and M. Giardina (Eds.), Ethical Futures of Qualitative Research: Decolonizing the Politics of Knowledge, 111-27. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
  • Denzin, N., and Lincoln, S. (Eds.). (2003). The Landscape of Qualitative Research: Theories and Issues. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Gergen, M., and Gergen, K. (2003). Qualitative inquiry: Tensions and transformations. In N. Denzin and S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Landscape of Qualitative Research, 575-610. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Graveline, F.J. (1998). Circleworks: Transforming Eurocentric Consciousness. Halifax: Fernwood.
  • Herising, F. (2005). Interrupting positions: Critical thresholds and queer pro/positions. In L. Brown and S. Strega (Eds.), Research as Resistance, 127-52. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
  • Little Bear, L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Battiste (Ed.), Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision, 77-85. Vancouver: UBC Press.
  • McTaggart, R. (Ed.). (1997). Participatory Action Research: International Contexts and Consequences. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Rossman, G., and Rallis, S. (2003). Learning in the Field: An Introduction to Qualitative Research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Stringer, E. (1999). Action Research. (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Wilson, S. (2001). What is Indigenous research methodology? Canadian Journal of Native Education 25(2): 175-9.
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