Research as a colonising force

Research has the potential to affect change for the betterment of society, but it also has the power to cause harm. One of the ways in which harm occurs is through the appropriation of knowledge for the benefit of researchers and not the benefit of the researched. For indigenous people research is often experienced as a colonising tool. In part, related to the colonising aspect of Western-led research, indigenous methodologies have developed in which research is participatory, reciprocal, accountable, culturally appropriate and led by indigenous people for the benefit of indigenous people.

In the past I have experienced research in which the study researched upon Māori rather than with Māori. Despite a rhetoric, from the researchers, of Māori involvement, control and ownership of the study the promises were forgotten once the data had been collected. The end result was a study that polished the ego of the researchers rather than fed, nurtured and grew the capacity of Māori participants.

My PhD has arisen from concerns that research should not be an empty promise but instead lead to a fulfilment of potential. It should not be about lifting the ego of individuals but instead be about the empowerment of communities. It should not consume knowledge but instead transform that knowledge into action. For that reason my PhD utilises a Kaupapa Māori aligned (or consistent) methodology that counters the colonising aspect of Western-led research.

Written on January 19, 2017