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IS830 Week TWO Lecture 2024

Decolonizing Methods

Dr Nazanin Shahrokni

4. Decolonizing knowledge: A summary

5. Thinking differently with Ruha Benjamin

3. Different ways to minimize extractivism in research

2. Traps to watch out for

1. What is decolonization and why is it important?


What is decolonization & why is it important?

"Western institutions have benefited historically not just from the flow of resources and profits from colony to metropole but also allied advantages; they have been able to accumulate archives, specimens, objects and information afforded to them, even now, by the power of colonial knowledge - ethnologising, museumising, mapping, anthropologising, narrating, cataloguing, dissecting and classifying peoples and lands outside what was deemed ‘Europe’.”

Priyamvada Gopal (2021)On Decolonisation and the University

Decolonization begins with recognizing knowledge constraints. Related to recognizing constraints, disruption is another step toward addressing these constraints in curriculum and pedagogy. Common key verbs used to illustrate this second meaning include decentering, destabilizing, interrupting, resisting, challenging, eliminating, divesting, destabilizing, and/or dismantling. For the most part, the literature suggested disrupting “dominant,” “imperialist,” “colonial,” “hegemonic,” “Westernized,” “Eurocentric,” “neoliberal,” and/or “White bodies” modes of knowledge production within curriculum or pedagogy. Decolonization also means making room for alternatives. Key phrases associated with this third meaning, included asserting, imagining, giving voice, enabling, centering, embedding, reconstructing, validating, transforming, integrating, or achieving liberation, empowerment, and/or self-determination .


For researchers to keep in mind @ this stage

Testimonial injustice is prejudice that causes one to give a deflated level of credibility to a speaker’s word based on their identity. Hermeneutical injustice is ‘the injustice of having some significant area of one’s social experience obscured from collective understanding’ because of a lack of access to social resources to make sense of one’s own experiences.

Point 3

Epistemic injustice (Fricker, 2007): injustice related to knowledge.

Point 2

“Recognizing our location, having to name the ground we're coming from, the conditions we have taken for granted” (Adrienne Rich))

Point 1

Why is decolinizing research important?

Research as essential to decolonization more broadlyKnowledge and culture are as part of imperialism, similar to raw materials and military strength (Smith 2012)

Point 3

Justice & Reparation

Point 2

Academic integrityRigorous thinking requires conversations among different ideas, texts and intellectual traditions

Point 1

Traps to watch out for

Not-to-do List!

Homogenizing "non-West" vs "west"

Romanticizing post-colonial power structures

Offering problematic representations

Relying on neat divisions such as "Global North" vs "Global South"

Relying on "confessions" priviledge

Minimizing extractivism in research

Acknowledge intellectual debts! * Citational practices matter: “Through the process of citation, we bring with us those bodies and ideas deemed legitimate and worthy of attention and dialogue – those who we want to remember.” (Mott and Cockayne, 2017) * Unjust dynamic between global south & global north scholars in terms of what is considered important & provincial (Dietze, 2008) * Don’t just cite scholarship from the canon; cite local writers (note local hierarchies too!) & cite sources not traditionally considered academic (judiciously, of course – take into account epistemic location, etc.)

* Consider publishing a version of your work for non-academic audiences (may not be in English) * Ethical allyship (don’t self-appoint and certainly don’t “speak for”) Navigating the dilemma when you do need to speak up* Always take into account whose labor supports your ability to "produce knowledge"? Beyond recognition, push for material redistribution; Compensate research participants for their time; provide food; provide childcare support if possible

In the end, no knowledge is "innocent"!

All research involves extracting from the other to “produce knowledge”; there is a process of simplification/objectification that occurs; some degree of “speaking about” (or worse, “speaking for”) Decolonising can only always be a process, not a final state (Gopal, 2021) We continue to accrue privileges based on epistemic location We inhabit the Western academy and it inhabits us: academic training + intellectual habits inform how we engage with texts, what we prioritise, include, and exclude, and our incentive structures Self-flagellation and retreat are not the answer: Acknowledge the contradictions and ambivalences of our position – no such thing as “uncontaminated” position Give an account of the complexity of our methodological journeys because we will not be able to fully remove ourselves from extractive colonial structures of research. This is still valuable because it makes the struggle/contestation visible; has a denaturalising effect

Decolonization: A summary

Centering indigenous voices

Demythologizing hegemonic paradigms and offering emancipatory re-readings

Epistemological diversity

Opening up spaces for alternative paradigms, different ways of knowing & diverse espistemological perspectives

What needs to be decolonised? From the broad spectrum of scientific methods, will the starting point be social science research methods? Is it data, research or researchers themselves who need to be ‘decolonised’?

In a nutshell

Epistemological disruptions

Politics of recognition

Epistemological injustice

Thinking differently with Ruha Benjamin

on imagining and crafting the worlds we cannot live without, just as we dismantle the ones we cannot live within...






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