Towards Relational Methodologies: Relationality and Ethical Know-How in Indigenous Research

Prof. Estelle Barrett (University of Melbourne)
2019 Conference

In this paper I consider whether guidelines and principals such as those found in AIATSIS Guidelines for Ethical Research in Indigenous Studies (2012), are in themselves enough to achieve these aims if the fundamental premises of western research related to engagement in Indigenous contexts remain the same. Central to the discussion in this paper are the ethical challenges and dilemmas confronting “outsider” and non-Indigenous researchers working in the field of Indigenous research and the question of whether non-Indigenous researchers are able to occupy the space of Indigenous studies. I attempt to demonstrate how Indigenous notions of relationality and relatedness fundamental to protocols of engagement with Indigenous communities in research might enhance ethical know-how and impact of cross-cultural research, involving human participants across the general field of research in more profound and practical ways. Drawing on Indigenous scholarship, I examine issues such as positioning, privilege, appropriation and homogenization as they pertain to engagement within research contexts and consider how this might refigure the role of “outsider” researchers in ways that may help to imbed, more self-reflexive and more culturally appropriate modes of engagement in cross-cultural research.

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About the author

Estelle Barrett is an Honorary Professorial Fellow of the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. She has co-edited three books with Barbara Bolt including Practice as Research: Approaches to Creative Arts Enquiry, (2007; 2010), as well as reviews and articles in: Cultural Studies Review; Zetesis; Real Time; Artlink; Text; Social Semiotics; Double Dialogues; Studies in Material Thinking; The International Journal of Critical Arts and the Journal of Visual Arts Practice. Her monograph, Kristeva Reframed: Interpreting Key Thinkers for the Arts, (2011), examines the relevance of the work of Julia Kristeva for the creative arts and creative arts research.