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Pacific Research: Rethinking the Talanoa ‘Methodology’ 

Laumua Tunufa’i

2016 Pasifika

Talanoa has created both an increasing interest among postgraduate students and some Pacific academics alike, as well as a conundrum among others especially over the question of whether talanoa is a research methodology, a research method, or both. This article is an added contribution towards addressing this question, and it begins with a brief discussion of the meanings of the talanoa concept. Having examined first the practice of deconstructing some words in order to reveal latent or perhaps new meanings, this article discusses how such practice could be disempowering and therefore counterproductive especially within the context of the decolonisation project. Similarly, talanoa’s pan-Pacific approach is also inconsistent with decolonisation’s emphasis on relevancy. An analysis of the claim to methodology status also shows that talanoa lacks the philosophical rationale as well as the processual clarity that is unambiguously outlined in other ‘Pacific’ approaches such as Kakala and Vanua. Nevertheless, talanoa remains a useful research tool that is similar to, if not a translation of, other methods such as focus group discussions and individual interviews. 

Talanoa; methodology; methods; pan-Pacific; decolonisation; deconstruction.