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Decolonising Research Methods

Sara Ewing Goldsmiths, University of LondonThe speaker hosts workshops that situate Western academic research in historical, political and social conditions that are tied to colonial practices of difference and hierarchy. They are centred on participants’ ideas, assumptions, experiences and values in relation to different themes, in conjunction with short non-traditional texts, to provoke meaningful and unexpected discussions. These workshops align with the Goldsmiths goal to ‘Liberate Our Degree’ by addressing the inequalities embedded in pedagogy and curricula. Current collaborations include library staff working with procurement, reading lists and library practices, lecturers in various departments seeking to diversify their curriculum design, and students invested in decolonizing their own programmes.

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Decolonising Research Methods

  1. 1. SARA EWING, GOLDSMITHS, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON Decolonising Research Methods
  2. 2. My background • Community Organizations • Applied Linguistics • Public Policy • Research Methods • English for Academic Purposes
  3. 3. Decolonizing Research Methods Background Western philosophy Research practices Student assessments
  4. 4. Current workshop themes: 1. The Enlightenment 5. Education 2. History 6. Religion 3. Borders 7. Gender 4. Language 8. Activism
  5. 5. • Generate and reflect on ideas and experiences. • Discuss attitudes, assumptions and motivations that underpin academic study and research practices. • Engage with marginalized peoples’ writing/ideas. • Analyse our values related to these contexts.
  6. 6. Generating ideas What is research? Who does it? Who is it for? What is it for? What is a curriculum? What are the links between research and curricula?
  7. 7. Reading Mark words/phrases indicating: • Visibility/invisibility • Centre/margins What other groups can you think of?
  8. 8. “epistemic disobedience” Mignolo 2009 • Critically responding to and disrupting norms • Highlighting and deconstructing Western epistemological foundations • Challenging hierarchies of legitimacy
  9. 9. “Rewriting and rerighting” Smith 2012 • Make visible • Allow to be heard • Change how meaning is made • Ideas, experiences, values, relationships, individuals, groups
  10. 10. General strands of work • Pedagogy • Reading lists • Curricula
  11. 11. Pedagogy • No PowerPoint slides or prepared talking points • Directed tasks to generate/link ideas • Individual reflection and small group discussion • Discussions mapped out on whiteboard
  12. 12. Positive Outcomes • Re-centre the classroom interactions • Remove the authority of the lecturer • Allow many voices to be heard and validated • Link participants’ ideas and experiences to theory • Classes are actively co-produced
  13. 13. Challenges • Vulnerability of removing academic authority • Managing student expectations • Highly personal responses and disagreements • Classes are unpredictable
  14. 14. Reading Lists • What is included? • What is excluded? • What is essential reading? • What is additional reading?
  15. 15. Decolonising Research Methods https://rl.talis.com/3/gold/lists/E401036B- D4D2-0E03-778B-B9BACBA97D01.html Decolonising the Modern World https://rl.talis.com/3/gold/lists/DD0641A4- 1770-E41E-ECD4-C87F3948C2A3.html
  16. 16. How do readings get on the list? Suggestions from: • My own research • Students • Lecturers • External individuals
  17. 17. Curricula • Anthropology: working to recentre alternative or non-canonical narratives and theories • Sociology: embedding Decolonizing Research Methods into a core module • Open Book: dedicated workshops to explore themes related to students’ assessments
  18. 18. Liberate our Library • Discovery team procures resources • Subject team engages with students • Reading list team creates TALIS lists • Web team adds tags, etc. • Student Union directly advocates
  19. 19. The organization of systems is of central importance • Expectations of classroom interactions • Structure of curricula • Classification and categorization of knowledge • Historical and ideological orientations We must destabilize these systems
  20. 20. Critical research practices: • Motivate a necessary intervention • Reconsider the classifications of knowledge • Disrupt the hierarchies embedded in research and curricula • Reimagine social identities and relationships

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