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Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (Second Edition)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  730 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
To the colonized, the term 'research' is conflated with European colonialism; the ways in which academic research has been implicated in the throes of imperialism remains a painful memory. This essential volume explores intersections of imperialism and research - specifically, the ways in which imperialism is embedded in disciplines of knowledge and tradition as 'regimes o ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 10th 2012 by Zed Books (first published 1999)
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May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
Dense and laborious to get through, but (unlike so many theoretical works) not because it was incomprehensible, but because every sentence seemed vital and applicable to my own work and needed to be mulled over in my mind. As a non-indigenous historian in-training, it felt a bit naughty to be reading the work as the author stated rather sternly in her intro that her intended audience is for indigenous researchers doing indigenous research. In many ways, however, I feel this warning was a ruse in ...more
This book saved my life when I was attempting to write a research paper in a colonialist discipline using anti-colonialist/ counter-hegemonic/ indigenous traditional practices. Its literally handbook for just that. People of indigenous backgrounds of all sorts should consider this book in their process of cultural self-determiantion. Linda Tuhiwai-Smith is awesome I hella want to be able to write and process at the level.
Dec 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theory
Smith’s book is split into two parts. The first part addresses the complications of the role of “research” within an indigenous framework and the history of European or Western colonization in using research to commit some of the worst excesses of imperial history. She discusses the major concepts that frame Western approaches to research and how problematic that approach is when applied to an indigenous context. This first half basically gives the background for the need to decolonize Western m ...more
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
what a pain in the ass
Oct 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book; a must read for anyone involved in racial justice. Linda Tuhiwai Smith eloquently and succinctly makes the case for an anti-colonial methodology that runs counter to the history of colonizing research that has been so central to the oppression of native peoples. Drawing upon Ngugi wa Thong'o, Michel Foucault, Edward Said, and numerous indigenous scholars, Smith formulates a critique of the imperial world view and of scientism that, while not entirely novel, is rarely so wel ...more

The speed with which I gobbled this book up (a matter of hours) - tells any reader more than enough about my capacity for knowledge acquisition and knowing-power, the message the book sends to me, however, I need the rest of my life to work out and enact, of that I'm sure. This may be the most important book that I've read about my position in this life (as a scholar) and my own research... ever. I'm a white colonial about to embark upon a Euro-centric research project that attempts a decol
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: people_of_color
It's good, but it's long on theory and short on story telling examples of colonizing and decolonizing.
Lots of redundancy. I think Smith could accomplish the same message with half the number of pages.

I particularly recommend chapter three and her discussion of authenticity. I have so many stories to share about people defining how "authentic" I am. You're not really Mexican. You're not really Black. You're not really American... yadda yadda... people who are mixed understand this pretension of
Dec 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any researcher type personality who asks why and cares about indigenous people
Too many things to list. I constantly use it as reference in my cross cultural studies courses, to write papers, write proposals for grants, etc. regarding indigenous movement to reclaim, etc. their traditional world views, take identities back, make new programs, address current social issues, etc. A must read, it was heavy material for me, just conceptually, not really difficult to grasp the ideas, just so much brain stimulation happening.
Andrew Murano
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I have recently conducted fieldwork with and am currently writing about a topic related to indigenous decolonization against 'Western' power structures, I found this book to be an essential tool to help frame my thesis from a balanced perspective.
Roger Green
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent and extremely readable articulation of theories and methods for use in indigenous scholarship. Smith begins with a general description of the historical impulses that shape a global indignity and political formations across the globe. She then moves into particular Maori practices, detailing methodological tensions it has with colonial knowledge production.
Eric Miller
Nov 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is absolutely essential reading for anyone doing ANY kind of research with indigenous peoples.

Since the beginning, research has always been linked to the violent and oppressive history of colonialism. Even research carried out with good intentions often advances colonialist ideals and fails to value indigenous interests. It is not okay to extract resources, knowledges, traditions, or anything else from indigenous peoples for the advancement of any goal, including academic tenure or the "gr
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2017, methods
need to reread immediately, literally required reading, thinking about what it means to do research that's actually loving and meaningful for people who ask for it
Sue Lyle
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an important book for anyone who is interested in research for social justice. The book is divided into two parts. Part 1 provides a critique of Western research practices and reveals its colonising underbelly. The author demonstrates the imperialistic impact of racist attitudes and practices on indigenous peoples across the world that continues today. In part two Linda Tuhiwal Smith, a Maori professor of research constructs a radical alternative methodology rooted in commitment to Decol ...more
Alex Birchall
Very overrated book on social science methodology and epistemology which, apart from endorsing the problematic legacy of Foucauldian relativism, articulates the ambivalent contradiction at the heart of most indigenous and 'decolonial' theories: one wants to preserve their apparent 'authenticity' (in this case a kind of shrewd nativist essence) but simultaneously repudiates the notion of 'authenticity' as an imperialist imposition. The latter is obviously the correct interpretation, but Smith pro ...more
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for any indigenous person on a quest to 'do' research.
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though the popularity of decolonization theory does seem to be on the wane, this is a critical book for any researcher of indigenous studies - whether indigenous themselves or not. Smith is forceful in her argument against "traditional" Western research methods and for the most part rightfully so. Her evalution of the harm done to indigenous populations by research throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is particularly convincing. The second half of the book I think is slightly less e ...more
Aug 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The title speaks for itself...she really does decolonize the methods of research. Smith deconstructs the way white researchers impose their views on Māori people. The way Western researchers make "discoveries" and steal knowledge from indigenous peoples only to claim it as their own or distort the knowledge entirely. Smith also argues how anthropologists often steal "artifacts" from indigenous communities for museums.
My favorite part was when she talks about imperial knowledge versus knowledge.
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for a class. It essentially encompasses the thought processes for my Native American studies degree. Its not for everyone, as some people might get angry at the accusations being tossed at the social science community, especially anthropologists.
Dec 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent reasoning for- and proposing of- new research methodologies by and with indigenous peoples. Definite must read for educational researchers planning to work abroad, or with marginalized groups here at home.
Apr 06, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent insight into the ongoing colonization of indigenous peoples through western academia. An essential resource for anyone who conducts research or writing in any academic field and wishes to understand the function of subjectivity and knowledge.
David Reid
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding our role as settlers in North America (and all the 'former' colonies) and rethinking Western ideology. Written for an indigenous audience, it is informative and eye-opening for anyone.
Toti P.
"The relationship should be one of ongoing negotiation, rather than an impenetrable blockade." Sometimes I do find some of the attitudes replicated quite conflictive and alienating... Compassion and solidarity is what I say, always and unconditioned.
May 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a life changer. I recommend it to project managers and businesspeople alike to help them understand how to structure their projects, presentations, and negotiations with their client in mind - especially if that client isn't of a Western-oriented philosophical background.
Apr 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of social change
Shelves: non-fiction, theory
this book is incredibly dense and hard to read, but it's also really important. smith really disects what it means to be an "other," and the ways in which research of indigenous peoples tends to destroy their identities.
Christiane Alsop
Feb 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: home-and-away
A must for every anthropologist.
Excellent writing and insight.
Mar 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book for referencing
Christine McK
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: text-books
Interesting ideas about indigenous research. A bit repetitive, but other than that, a great read.
Bjørn Peterson
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, methodology
An incredibly important book that is no less important 15 years after its publishing. All social researchers should read this in my opinion.
Sarajoy Pond
Important topic. Not as well-thought-out or well-written as I was hoping.
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Professor Smith is Pro Vice-Chancellor Maori with responsibilities for Maori development at the University of Waikato as well as Dean of the School of Maori and Pacific Development and a professor of Education and Maori Development.Professor Smith has an academic background in education and research and has a long career as an inter-disciplinary scholar. She is well known for her publications, pub ...more
More about Linda Tuhiwai Smith...
“From the vantage point of the colonized, a position from which I write, and choose to privilege, the term ‘research’ is inextricably linked to European imperialism and colonialism. The word itself, ‘research’, is probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world’s vocabulary. When mentioned in many indigenous contexts, it stirs up silence, it conjures up bad memories, it raises a smile that is knowing and distrustful. It is so powerful that indigenous people even write poetry about research. The ways in which scientific research is implicated in the worst excesses of colonialism remains a powerful remembered history for many of the world’s colonized peoples. It is a history that still offends the deepest sense of our humanity. Just knowing that someone measured our ‘faculties’ by filling the skulls of our ancestors with millet seeds and compared the amount of millet seed to the capacity for mental thought offends our sense of who and what we are.1 It galls us that Western researchers and intellectuals can assume to know all that it is possible to know of us, on the basis of their brief encounters with some of us. It appals us that the West can desire, extract and claim ownership of our ways of knowing, our imagery, the things we create and produce, and then simultaneously reject the people who created and developed those ideas and seek to deny them further opportunities to be creators of their own culture and own nations. It angers us when practices linked to the last century, and the centuries before that, are still employed to deny the validity of indigenous peoples’ claim to existence, to land and territories, to the right of self-determination, to the survival of our languages and forms of cultural knowledge, to our natural resources and systems for living within our environments.” 3 likes
“The intellectual project of decolonizing has to set out ways to proceed through a colonizing world. It needs a radical compassion that reaches out, that seeks collaboration, and that is open to possibilities that can only be imagined as other things fall into place. Decolonizing Methodologies is not a method for revolution in a political sense but provokes some revolutionary thinking about the roles that knowledge, knowledge production, knowledge hierarchies and knowledge institutions play in decolonization and social transformation.” 3 likes
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