ERG SES G 01, Teachers and Education
General description on research questions, objectives and theoretical framework
This project asks scholars to question and reflect on the assumptions that underlie traditional views on knowledge generation and distribution. Specifically those European based frameworks common in academic contexts. Scholars are called upon to re-adjust our research approaches and consider the benefits of Indigenous people using specific Indigenous research methods. Questions will essentially include the method used gather data, the quality of interpersonal relationships in cross-cultural research and the related protocols. Finally, how does this improve the validity of such research?
In recent decades increasing numbers of the world’s Indigenous people have undertaken tertiary studies and proceeded to engage with academia as staff of these institutions. One of the many difficulties facing Indigenous Australian scholars working in the dominant context, is the history of Aboriginal people as the objects of Indigenous research rather than the initiator, investigator and publisher of this research. Western and European approaches to research have sought to locate Aboriginal people as passive objects (Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999, 2005) but radical change in the past decades has sought to re-establish Indigenous people and scholars as part of a research paradigm more ‘in tune’ with Indigenous philosophies and research methods (Rigney, 1997; Tuhiwai-Smith, 1999; West, 2000; Martin, 2001;Nakata, 2007; Arbon, 2008). The exploration of new ways of knowing has given rise to new found theoretical and methodological approaches on what Rigney (2006) called an ‘Indigenous Research Reform Agenda’.
This paper will seek to cover two aspects associated with the reform. Firstly, it will briefly trace the key themes and ideas of this reform agenda over the past two decades and secondly articulate this as applied to a specific research project. It is the intention to view the general process of Indigenous research methods and then specifically discuss a case study using a specific Indigenous research method.
Calls for Indigenous control over Indigenous focused research is not new. Walton and Christie (1994) discussed how movements against the dominant discourse was being challenged sporadically prior to the 1960’s, however, it was not until the 1990’s that some traction was being made to mount a challenge against the dominant hegemonic view. They discuss ‘Aboriginalism’, a term coined by Mudrooroo in 1990, which described a concept of writing and research void of Indigenous peoples’ input. They contend that the concept of ‘Aboriginalism’ is about stories ‘told by whites using only white peoples’ imaginations…[where] Aborigines always become what white man imagines them to be”(1994, p.82). This left Aboriginal people in a position of remaining the passive black ‘museum artefact’ or becoming the non-genuine assimilated ‘coconut’.
The position of an Aboriginal writer or scholar was couched in Western perceptions of how we should write and the extent of how we fit within dominant academic discourse. Such perspectives at this time discouraged Aboriginal voice and agency but an increase in Aboriginal scholarship over recent decades both nationally and internationally provided the impetus for much needed change and a reduction of the European and US domination (Ferguson, 2011).
 A derogatory term for an assimilated Indigenous person (specifically ‘black’ on the outside but ‘white’ on the inside)
References: Arbon, V. (2008). Knowing from where? In history, politics and knowledge: Essays in Australian Indigenous studies. Victoria: Australian Scholarly Publishing. Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (2012) Guidelines for Ethical Research in Australian Indigenous Studies. Available: http://aiatsis.gov.au/sites/default/files/docs/research-and-guides/ethics/gerais.pdf Martin, K. (2001) Ways of knowing, being and doing: A theoretical framework and methods for Indigenous and Indigenist research. Paper presented at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, ‘Power of Knowledge and the Resonance of Tradition’ Conference Canberra. Nakata (1998) Anthropological texts and Indigenous standpoints, in Australian Aboriginal Studies, Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra. National Health and Medical Research Council. (2003) Values and Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Research. Available: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/e52.pdf Rigney, L-I. (2006)- Indigenous Australian views on Knowledge production and Indigenist Research. In Indigenous peoples Wisdom and Power: Affirming our Knowledge through narratives. Ed. Kunnie, J.E. & Goduka, N.L. Ashgate Publishing: Hampshire, England. Tuhiwai Smith, L. (1999) Decolonising methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. Zed Books: London. Tuhiwai Smith, L. (2005) On tricky ground: Researching the native in the age of uncertainty. In Denzin, N., and Lincoln, Y. (Eds) Handbook of qualitative research (3rd edition). Sage: London, pp. 85 – 107. West, E. (2000) The Japanangka teaching and research paradigm: An Aboriginal framework. Paper presented at the Indigenous Research and postgraduate Forum. Aboriginal Research Institute, university of South Australia, 18 – 20 September, 2000.
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