Kim TallBear on a Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry
Kim TallBear describes her own research ethic as based on a commitment to “Standing With,” and “Speaking as Faith.” She “inquires in concert” with the communities in which she works and researches.
TallBear is critical of discourses of “giving back” to the communities that a researcher studies because it maintains a binary between the researcher(knowing inquirer) and the researched(“who or what are considered to be the resources or grounds for knowledge production”) (2). While the problems with this sort of research have seen more discussion as of late, not all researchers are aware of or attend to these kinds of concerns.
In the development of her own research ethic, TallBear cites as influences the work of feminist theorists Danna Haraway and Sandra Harding who problematize the idea that objectivity and neutrality are the same. TallBear suggests that if we “account for standpoints, objectivity will be strengthened,” rather than weakened (3).
TallBear cites as another influence the feminist thinkers who emphasize care in research ethics. There are “intellectual and ethical virtues and benefits that result when one is invested in the knowledge and technologies one critiques” (3). TallBear seeks to inhabit, “the material and virtual world,” in which she does research. She does not seek to go to some place elsewhere to do fieldwork and then come back.
She takes inspiration, too, from Neferti Tadiar’s description of the Tagalog word sampalataya, or “act of faith.” Tadiar describes this as speaking in concert with many voices from a community and not speaking on behalf of a community. Instead of studying down (studying marginalized groups as the colonial anthropologists did), or studying up (studying the powerful, something Tallbear found difficult to be invested in), TallBear seeks to “study across” in order to maintain care in her work.
Unlike Community-based research that often involves “elaborately planned approaches involving a research team spanning the research institution and the community,” and combining “research, education, and action (1),” TallBear often works individually, or in small groups, in conversation with community members. TallBear acknowledges the usefulness of Community-based participatory research in the fields of social, natural, and health sciences, but in her own work aims to strike a balance between sharing goals and “staying engaged in critical conversation and producing new knowledge and insights” (2).
TallBear admits that some may find her ethic difficult to replicate, however, for TallBear, this approach has led her to the field of “Indigeneity and Technoscience” (also the name of her blog), a multidisciplinary field that she is helping to create and in which she can engage in work that she cares about, and in which she can study “across” and “up” rather than down.
This s a summary article written by Chenoa Sly. For more information, please access the full document:
TallBear, K. (2014). Standing with and speaking as faith: A feminist-indigenous approach to inquiry [Research note]. Journal of Research Practice, 10(2), Article N17. Retrieved from http://jrp.icaap.org/index.php/jrp/article/view/405/371