Resisting the “Tyranny of an Expert”: A Journey Towards Relational Research

Resisting the “Tyranny of an Expert”: A Journey Towards Relational Research

Jennifer Adele Morrison (Texas Tech University, USA) and Jeong-Hee Kim (Texas Tech University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2208-0.ch003
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As more and more universities push for engaged scholarship following Boyer's mandate, it is paramount that faculty and graduate students consider what community-engaged scholarship means in general as well as what it means to develop as reflexive researchers who are fully-engaged partners in the research process, especially when working with Indigenous communities. The purpose of this chapter is to document how a graduate student works on her Bildung of becoming an engaged scholar, fostered by her faculty mentor. In so doing, the researchers aim to affirm Indigenous ways of knowing and researching and further question what it means to be a community-engaged scholar.
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Linking Community-Engaged Scholarship With An Indigenous Paradigm: A Framework For Relational Research

A good place to begin a conversation about how community-engaged scholarship can be informed by an Indigenous paradigm is with Cree scholar Shawn Wilson, who said,

The source of a research project is the heart/mind of the researcher, and ‘checking your heart’ is a critical element in the research process. The researcher ensures that there are no negative or selfish motives for doing the research, because that could bring suffering on everyone in the community. A ‘good heart’ guarantees a good motive, and good motives benefit everyone involved. (2008, p. 60)

As Smith (1999/2012) and other Indigenous scholars have noted, Indigenous peoples have been one of the most “studied” people in the world, studied as objects of research, not subjects whose knowledge and voices were included in research conversations. Most often, Indigenous people were not a part of the decision-making processes involved in research, and there was not a true interest in how research might benefit Indigenous communities. Indigenous epistemological and ontological constructs were ignored and discounted by Western-focused researchers who imposed their own ways of understanding the world onto the research process (Smith, 1999/2012; Chilisa, 2012; Kovach, 2009) and entered into research without “a good heart” (Wilson, 2008). Therefore, the very notion of research is often viewed with a more-than-skeptical eye by many Indigenous communities (Smith, 1999/2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Indigenous Epistemology: An understanding of the world from Indigenous knowledge bases.

Bildung Development: The notion that one develops his- or her-self over time in a purposeful way to become a better person.

Indigenous Research Paradigm: A foundational approach to research based on Indigenous knowledge and understanding of the world.

Indigenous Methodology: Research methodology based on a relational approach to all aspects of the research process.

Decolonization: The process of removing colonizing influences from colonized peoples and social structures.

Relationality: A research approach that is based on relations with research partners.

Reflexivity: When a researcher takes time to reflect on the research process, critically questioning his/her motives and place within the research.

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