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Researching With Villagers: Applying Transformative and Indigenous Approaches at a Private Wildlife Boundary in Zimbabwe

Svongwan Nemadire

2022 Zimbabwe, Africa

Transformative and indigenous research frameworks can help facilitate social change; however, few studies have demonstrated their application to the study of the injustices of wildlife conservation in neo-colonial African contexts. This study illustrates the opportunities and limitations presented by these frameworks through a reflexive account of a PhD research journey at a conflict and private wildlife border in Zimbabwe. Villagers rescued the study from failing by steering it toward a research design that mixed different forms of knowledge, frameworks, and methods that were responsive to their research questions and complex political situations. The study concludes that transformative and indigenous researchers at sensitive wildlife boundaries in Africa should work with suffering villagers in teams without power hierarchies. Team membership should reflect different races, genders, and proximity to certain powerful actors. Such a research process may result in the transformation of both the researchers and the suffering villagers, although to achieve policy transformation, they must engage politically based on the research findings.

emancipatory research, mixed methods, social justice, ethnography, methods in qualitative inquiry