WORLD ANTHROPOLOGICAL UNION

CONGRESS 2024​

SELECTED PANEL

( pn19 )

De-Colonizing Ethnographic Method and Practice: Perspectives from Migrant/ Displaced- Tribal, Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Populations

Organizers

    Bobby Luthra Sinha

    India

    Centre for Asian, Africa, and Latin American Studies, ISS, Delhi

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

    Susan Julia Chand

    Trinidadian

    School of Social Sciences at the University of the Southern Caribbean (USC), Trinidad and Tobago.

    Face to Face/ On Site - Presence

IUAES Affiliation: Migration

Keywords:

Decolonisation, Ethnography, Asia, Caribbean, Latin America

Abstract:

Our worldviews being culture-specific and rooted in our belief systems, are also the key to our perceptions on and meaning making of the world we live in. Indigenous worldviews can be people and habitat focused often banking upon oral traditions, personal experiences, and relationships. Indigenous research draws from these indigenous worldviews and is community-led and purposeful. Can it contribute to decolonization of knowledge and raising up migrant- tribal, indigenous and non-indigenous voices? Indigenous research follows systematic inquiry from indigenous lens and engages in research methods that are resident within the indigenous community. Conventional research focuses on discovering the generalizable truths and addressing the reliability and validity concerns (Smith, 2012). Data analysis and interpretation are often conducted with detachment that further objectifies marginalised populations. Results often privilege those following conventional research practices with Eurocentric academic training and are likely to marginalise indigenous ways of knowing and equitable participation in research processes and outcomes (Kovach, 2009; Smith, 2012; Snow et al, 2016). Research findings often influence policy and practice in various disciplines and can thus, continue to subjugate disempowered groups within society and institutions. Therefore, researchers engaged in indigenous research strongly advocate qualitative methodologies with their rich academic history, offer additional research paradigms (e.g., social constructivism, critical theory, pragmatism, transformative theories), alternative conceptualizations to collect data (e.g. interviews, photography, documents), including the degree to which researcher and participant voice are negotiated, and the privileging of context in data interpretation and presentation (Hays & Singh, 2012) and pose less burden on the researcher. This panel will discuss methods and practices of Ethnographic research using case studies from indigenous and non-indigenous populations in South and Southeast Asian, Caribbean and the Latin American contexts. Data collected using indigenous research methods of storytelling, personal reflections, standpoints, visiting, sharing circles, ceremonies and rituals, art creation, dance, folk lore and the challenges therein will be analysed. These approaches when incorporated in the traditional/conventional research, expand the scope of research methodology to be inclusive of cultural protocols, social mores, behaviours, and indigenous ways of knowledge creation. Therefore, the key questions for researcher engaging in indigenous research and ethnographic research will be – what research we want to do? For whom? Whose perspectives are incorporated? What difference will it make? Who 'conducts' and 'participates' in the research? Who owns the data? Who benefits? Will the research be used to hegemonise or dislocate voices? Ethnographic research allows people to tell their stories of life in their communities both negative and positive ones. Ethnographic narratives help the researchers (outsiders) to understand the participants’ (insiders) points of views and engage them in conversation that will be a beginning point for intervention/finding solutions to community problems. We propose an empowered understanding of the dynamics between research, researcher, and the researched.