4b Decolonizing Methodology

To be completely honest:

I really thought the teacher was messing with us. To start this with Meyers and then with Smith. I thought this was a compare on contrast of diffrent types of advocate styles. Both have very valuable information yet, one was alive and vibrant while the other was very informative but dry. If I knew that that video was going to be 2 hours longs I would have searched for the cliff notes.

What I did take away from this:

There are different types of advocates; that being an advocate for change especially in the realm of understanding decolonization, you have to be theatrical to get the attention of the masses. To connect with them when there is no connection.

Have you always thought of history and research as generally “good”? Has your perspective changed after this week’s reading and video? How?
Webster Online defines Research as: inquiry or examination. I see this as a method of understanding something thoroughly and objectively. As a social change agent or an advocate it is necessary to have all the information before you approach in your cause. I personally do not feel comfortable in addressing issues I do not know about and I would feel more comfortable in being immersed in these ideas to effect change accordingly.
In my personally view, Ms. Michelle Fine had me questioning statements of reform. Especially about the experience of ankle bracelets and the “master zone”. Its comments like this that make me truly want to do thorough research; and I could not find anything on it. (Please direct me to factual information if it exists.)
Ms. Smith lecture was really long and dry. I understand that some people may not have the experience in “decolonizing methodology”, but her examples did not connect with me. It is also possible that my expectations were high after listening and reading Dr. Meyer’s work. The video, did not connect with me in the structure of what was being discussed. I was very easily confused on if New York and New Zealand were once connected. The description and title did not prepare audience for what was being discussed.

What do you think about Tuhiwai Smith problematizing the words: imperialism, history, writing and theory?
-I totally understand where she was coming from with this. We have the same problems on Guam. And the question most students come across when studying this is: who’s version of history is correct? Thinking from an indigenous perspective they may describe history in a different way based on their cultural belief while the opposing party may see it in a scientific or western perspective using their respective framework or context.

Winston Churchill said it best, “history is written by the victors”

How might you read or think about research now that you have read and listened to Tuhiwai’s discussion of research?
-I totally understand, especially as a Social Worker in the realm of research that participation is key, and participation can not be met without consent. While some researchers are thorough with being culturally competent and making sure that participants understand what is going on, what the data is going to be used for and how researchers are trying to be sensitive in a dynamic of humanity, the research is to help better understand a problem or issue that is not fully understood in order to eventually effect change.
I feel like colleagues in the research field need to be reminded of these principles. Thus the creation of the IRB to not replicate issues that have happened in the process and development of previous research like: Tuskegee and the Havasupai people.
I also understand that at times the methodology of our research may be compromised to find the truth. As a social worker I have always found this to be a dilemma. How far can we go, in order to increase the quality of life for individuals, groups and communities?

How might this information apply to social workers interested in doing research?
Refer to previous question.

Join the Conversation


  1. Hafa Adai Ray,

    I really liked the point you made about Smith’s problematizing words imperialism, history, writing, and theory. Your use of Winston Churchill’s quote of victors writes history I felt was appropriate.

    I really liked your point of how it could be seen from both sides of the spectrum of “cultural belief while the opposing party may see it in a scientific or western perspective using their respective framework or context.”

    I also find it true that when anyone dives deep into thinking and studying Guam’s colonial history it comes to the very layered questions of “who is right?”

    You got some gears turning in my head about instances when this might have been the case.

    I think one example of an interesting “who was right” point in Guam history was when Magellan “named” Guam “Island of the Lateen Sails” which changed to “Islas de Los Ladrones” or “Island of Thieves” after landing on Guam. When Magellan landed on Guam his crew was ill with scurvy but regained their strength with the coconut water the CHamoru people shared his crew. With the CHamoru custom and norm of chenchule’ or reciprocity, the CHamoru people took the nails from Magellan’s boat, having never seen iron, which was misunderstood as stealing thus the “re-naming” of Guam to “Island of Thieves.”

    I think it’s ironic lol. Anyway.

    Who is right? I think it depends on who you ask.

    The readings have been helpful in providing some sort of validation and bravery to stand where I need and want on certain issues. To me, the people who were most affected by an event in history that should be the ones write or share that story. Although then it becomes a matter of “who was most affected?” I am brought to think of the purpose of Magellan’s voyage, to begin with, which (loosely saying) was to expand and conquer. I wouldn’t say it is based on the intentions of malice but I do think it is important to consider that the idea to conquer an already settled place was very influenced by imperialism thus influencing how history is recorded.

    Thank you for this post!
    Sar ginen Guåhan


  2. Shino,
    I agree that this reading & video was dry compared to the Meyer experience we were given for the last two assignments. You said “I personally do not feel comfortable in addressing issues I do not know about and I would feel more comfortable in being immersed in these ideas to effect change accordingly” I appreciate your honesty because it’s also tricky for me to approach the unfamiliar, but at the same time it might lead us on a great adventure.
    “Who’s version of history is correct?” There are many different versions of events in history, and you’re right, that the side heard the most is usually that of the victor, this has always bothered me because I want to hear the other side of the story, but where do we go for that information? This is why in research, just like history, its important to take a look at who is performing the research, how is it being paid for, and who does it really effect…I try to always know the answers to these questions before really “believing” the research I’m reading.


  3. Thanks for the feedback on the video. I’ll take a look and see if I can edit it down for the future. Dr. Smith is the leading researcher in this area though, so I thought it is important to hear her words. I also like the Churchill quote, this definitely shows the mindset of the colonizer. Nice job! Mike


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