Annotation: Decolonizing Methodologies

Annotation: Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples

In Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s Decolonizing Methodologies Research and Indigenous Peoples, Smith sets out to expose how research and the practice of research is inherently connected to imperialist ideologies and pedagogy that places indigenous folks in the position of the other. Smith begins by raising the notion that research was never welcomed by the indigenous communities and often “collected, classified, and then represented in various ways back to the West” (1). When we think about what is being said here, we think of the novels and stories in which research has been used to perpetuate and progress the vision of indigenous communities and people as the other (Conrad’s Heart of Darkness for instance despite being fiction). Because research was incredibly powerful to the oppressor and only happened to the oppressed, there was “cynicism” surrounding the notion of an indigenous person “being associated with research” as a dual identity with association to the colonizer does harm to the colonized and can lead to a loss of the self. Smith contends that the problem surrounding an indigenous researcher is that their education comes from “primarily within the Western academy and specific disciplinary methodologies” (5). While I have only touched on a little bit of what Smith speaks on in their book introduction, I must admit that I have so much more to say, but have chosen to focus on this idea of the oppressed being educated by the oppressor. In Franz Fanon’s On Violence, it is discussed that the best way for the colonized to decolonize is to educate themselves on the values of the oppressor. When it comes to research, its intrinsically Imperialistic nature and continuing association, is it possible for Fanon’s ideas to carry into the decolonization of research? Is it as violent as decolonization necessitates?