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Talanoa’i ‘A e Talanoa—Talking about Talanoa: Some dilemmas of a novice researcher

David Fa‘avae, Alison Jones, Linitä Manu‘atu

2016 Tonga, Pasifika

Pasifika social science researchers in Pacific contexts are encouraged to use research methods that reflect the lived realities of their participants, rather than reproduce what are seen as Western methods of research. As a Pasifika process, talanoa has become a popular research method, often likened to narrative interviews. It has been defined as an open, informal conversation between people in which they share their stories, thoughts and feelings (Vaioleti, 2006). This paper is a critique of how talanoa as a research method is represented in the literature, based on an account of the difficulties I have encountered as a beginning researcher grappling with the idea and practice of talanoa in my own research practice. I argue that improving the practice and understanding of talanoa requires open discussion about the practical dilemmas sometimes experienced by researchers attempting to use this approach.

talanoa, Tongan, Pasifika, narrative interviews, method, methodology