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Thinking and Researching Relationally: Enacting Decolonizing Methodologies With an Indigenous Early Childhood Program in Canada

Alison Gerlach

2018 Canada

Decolonizing methodologies are gaining increasing prominence in diverse research contexts in which Indigenous peoples are researchers, research partners, participants, and knowledge users. As political and intellectual allies committed to actively resisting and redressing the colonizing potential of research and advancing social change, non-Indigenous scholars are also enacting decolonizing methodologies. By drawing on the author’s experiences as a non-Indigenous researcher partnering with an Indigenous early childhood program in Canada, this article illustrates the interconnected ways in which relationality provides the necessary epistemological scaffolding to actualize the underlying motives, concerns, and principles that characterize decolonizing methodologies. Relationality draws attention to the multiple intersecting influences that shape research and knowledge itself, emphasizes reciprocity, and is compatible with many Indigenous worldviews. This article contributes toward the ongoing international dialogue about decolonizing methodologies and is directed primarily to non-Indigenous researchers and graduate students who are questioning how to “do” community-based decolonizing research involving Indigenous peoples.

community based research, critical theory, social justice, ethical inquiry, methods in qualitative inquiry