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Autoethnography as a Decolonizing Methodology: Reflections on Masta’s What the Grandfathers Taught Me

Dung T. Pham, June E. Gothberg

2020 United States

As an Asian graduate student and a Native professor at a U.S. Midwestern Predominantly White Institution, we reflected upon Masta’s (2018) article, What the Grandfathers Taught Me: Lessons for an Indian Country Researcher, to examine the decolonizing aspects of autoethnography. Masta’s use of autoethnography to explore her experiences provides a deeply personal view into the phenomenon of living and researching Indigenous in an America that is inherently White in character, tradition, structure, and culture. The use of participatory and constructivist Indigenous autoethnography places the lived experience of an Indigenous woman at the center of the study, using the Indigenous lens to respect the cultural values, beliefs, and teachings of a community that remains largely overlooked in Eurocentric research. Such an appreciation and understanding led us to argue that autoethnography is a promising decolonizing methodology which has the potential to inform decolonization and social justice movements.

Autoethnography, Decolonization, Indigenous