I need to have a talk about Indigenous research, Indigenous-led research, research about or with Indigenous ppl & where non-Indigenous ppl fit within them. I’m seeing more & more non-Indigenous ppl leading Indigenous projects at my institution #AcademicTwitter #BlackintheIvory
So let’s be clear on what the difference is. Research about Indigenous ppl is the kind of research that has caused significant damage to Indigenous ppls. It’s the kind of research that saw non-Indigenous anthropologists misinterpreting our cultures, exoticising us or just plain..
referring to us as savages. Research about Indigenous ppl is the kind of research that saw our skulls removed from graves and studied to ‘prove’ Darwinian theory, with white folk claiming we were the missing link between humans and apes. Don’t be that non-Indigenous researcher.
Research with Indigenous ppl attempts to involve Indigenous ppl in participatory ways. It aims to ensure genuine collaboration with Indigenous ppls and community, to drive a shared research agenda that is grassroots. BUT, it often ends up as tokenistic consultation for mob.
Ive seen non-Indigenous ppl claim their research is w/ Indigenous ppl but in reality, Indigenous ppl are not driving the research agenda. They’re brought on after the project has been designed, to do the field work or enlisted as advisors. Don’t be that non-Indigenous researcher.
For non-Indigenous researchers to genuinely create research w/ Indigenous ppl, it needs to truly involve Indigenous ppl in all stages of the research. Indigenous ppl - not just orgs - need to drive the research question, design, methods used, fieldwork, analysis and write up.
Don’t conflate Aboriginal organisations with ‘research with Indigenous ppl’. Orgs are a great starting point for non-Indigenous researchers. Reach out, build a relationship with them, yes. But it’s your responsibility to ensure Indigenous ppl from those orgs are working with you.
It’s your responsibility, as a researcher, to ensure that Indigenous voices are diverse and represented. Grassroots Indigenous voices, with lived experience of issues such as poverty, trauma, criminalisation, gov interference in their lives, may not sit on research teams at orgs.
U might be doing ur best to make ur research participatory, but as a non-Indigenous researcher u may not have access to the Indigenous ppl u need to include. This is where Indigenous research comes in. U need an Indigenous researcher so ur research doesn’t amplify the same voices
Now when you’re bringing Indigenous ppl & researchers on to ensure your project is more authentic & participatory, respect their expertise by remunerating their time. Don’t expect free labour. Don’t expect us to sit on committees for free. Slavery is over.
Position Indigenous researchers at the same level as u to ensure genuine co-design. There’s no point enlisting a bunch of Indigenous RAs that aren’t involved in designing the project. Indigenous cultural authority needs 2 b respected & elevated. Otherwise efforts r paternalistic.
Indigenous research that which is committed to a particular ontological and epistemological position. There r many forms of Indigenous research, but each is committed to true Indigenous self-determination.
Indigenous research needs to privileges Indigenous knowledges and benefits Indigenous peoples. As a non-Indigenous researcher, straight out, u don’t have access to Indigenous knowledges. U need an Indigenous researcher.
And not just any Indigenous folk will do. Lets be clear on that. As Indigenous ppls we are so diverse & our lived experiences of Indigeneity differ. Colourism & urban/rural/remote differences r important. A good Indigenous researcher will be in local community & get local context
Indigenous-led research is authentic, genuinely involves mob from grassroots to orgs and everything inbetween. Straight out: non-Indigenous researchers cannot do Indigenous-led research. If ur non-Indigenous & leading the research, it’s not Indigenous-led. Plain & simple.
So where does that leave non-Indigenous researchers? Be honest. Language matters. Dont pretend that ur research project is something that it’s not. And educate urself so that u can do better. Wherever possible, step aside & enable an Indigenous researcher to lead on their terms.