Critical Literacy: Theories and Practices, Vol 3, No 1 (2009)

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Nga haerenga - the bumpy road to research insight

Melinda Webber


Research methodology texts often start with an anecdote about the ‘bumpy road’ to research insight. Linda Smith (2005) posits that indigenous researchers engage in “research in [[...]] a time of uncertainty, and in an era when knowledge as power is re-inscribed through its value as a commodity in the global market place, this presents tricky ground for researchers” (p.102). Smith further refers to this tricky ground as a space of marginalisation that can also become a space of resistance and hope. For Māori engaging in an academic career in a mainstream university there are numerous compromises necessary in order to succeed. This paper is a personal reflection on the discontinuities, contradictions and disruptions of identity that occur as an emerging Māori researcher in a mainstream university setting. This paper also explores how internal ‘insider’ barriers can elide with structural barriers to shape and constrain the organisation and activities of Māori researchers. By openly reflecting on the complexities impacting my research, and through sharing my inter-subjectivities and personal observations, I hope this paper goes some way towards validating the naturalness of transitional and intellectual spaces of uncertainty, encouraging other researchers to engage in interrogating these uncomfortable positions, creating new spaces and imagining future possibilities.

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