5a through my lens

* How do these research methods differ from other research methods you are familiar with?

– From an academic perspective which is primarily a western perspective it is the baseline of my conscience knowledge of research methods, which is concise, orderly and objective. Meanwhile, my unconscious knowledge from the perspectives of the cultures I identify with are very much subjective from the aspect of a western perspective. I feel like there is a huge gap between understanding both perspectives. What one may perceive to understand may be hindered by a culture lens of understanding.

For example, Guam just celebrated its Liberation day anniversary a month ago. It’s a great day for celebration; yet, some indigenous CHamorus from Guam will argue that Guam was not liberated. It was colonized. And this is recognized as more of a framework perspective rather then a misunderstanding. To these indigenous people, they believe that one power just took over another, that here was no true freedom given, rather it was just and hand exchange.

A western perspective allows Social Work to be objective, yet in hindsight both sides are subjective.

* Do you think all of these methods are fully “decolonized” – why or why not?

-absolutely not, I feel like indigenous perspectives will always be viewed as subjective, compared to a western perspective or lens. Although, it is these indigenous people that have to live each day in the forefront of their situation, while western scholars interpret what they perceive rather than living it themselves.

* Do any of these methods resonate more with you than others?

-All of them do. I feel, that taking this class, it revolves more around indigenous people rather then my own people. This has given me the opportunity to think about indigenous people from an outside perspective. Especially how most of these classes and presentations revolve around the Hawaiian culture and perspective, I am left decoding unfamiliar references and cultural norms I am no familiar with.

I understand these methodologies were designed to better understand indigenous people, but this will always come from an outside perspective. Even in my writing, about my own indigenous people; I am left describing something I know, I feel, I live… in a western perspective.

* How might your identity as native or non-native impact your research with indigenous groups?

-As a CHamoru man, in the pursuit to understanding who I am and where I come from I am left asking these questions from a western perspective. I was influenced by a western culture and what ever was on the television. I acknowledge this because of my mentality and my accent. I was very much influenced my modern technology and what was hip on the television back in the 90s. I identify as a native to Guam, but doing research for a Chamoru studies class, to truly indigenous people with pure blood lines to the land, I am left feeling like an outsider. Through my research I am still attempting to understand the people with a western perspective. I am still looked as an outsider, which gives me the perspective of an outsider.

Join the Conversation

5 Comments

  1. Hafa adai Ray,

    I share your sentiment of polarities between the academic perspective being concise, orderly and objective and that of the unconscious knowledge you identify with being subjective. But I am muddled by your point in that something someone understands “may be hindered by a culture lens of understanding” that followed your example of Guam recently celebrating 75 years of liberation from the Japanese occupation. I had not clearly understood your stance so please forgive me if I am wrong in what I think you had tried to say.

    Before you read any further, know that I have so much respect and love for your insight, experiences, and sacrifices that have molded you to be you today.

    I admit to the fact that I am one of those indigenous CHamoru people from Guam who think Guam was not liberated. Especially, in the colonial context. I do however think that the U.S.’s returning to Guam did “liberate” Guam from the Japanese colonial power and the painful experiences that resulted from it.

    I not only think, but know, Guam was colonized after the Japanese and is still a colony.

    I do believe that one power just took over another.

    I do believe that there was and is no true freedom given.

    I do believe that it was just a hand exchange.

    I assume you disagree with these points based on you had specified “some indigenous” or “those indigenous” which excluded yourself. And that is okay. My respect and love for your view and experiences remain because those are things that I know I could not understand unless I was in your shoes.

    I am sure my worldview or “cultural lens” influences my sentiments above. You further explain that in hindsight both sides are subjective. But I’d like to suggest exploring that Guam is a colony simply facts and not based on the idea of subjective experiences I or those other indigenous people.

    I don’t like being this direct unless I feel it is absolutely called for.

    I implore you to challenge the thinking (if you feel) that a cultural lens hinders “those indigenous people” that believe Guam is not a colony.

    Guam’s formally recognized political status reflects that of a territory. Additionally, that status was decided by the administering power of the U.S, not the people.

    You had explained that the research methods we had read about were not fully decolonized because indigenous perspective will always be seen as subjective compared to western academia. You also make a (seemingly) counter-argument to that because indigenous people live each day in the forefront and that western scholars perceive rather than living it. You also mentioned that you find yourself describing your experiences from a western perspective.

    Based on the things I had observed from your view of “fully decolonizing” research methods, I sense the internal conflict of an indigenous person attempting to “fully decolonize” and “pick a side.” I had written in my post that what might be key to these polarities is to find a balance between the two that upholds the cultural values.

    Lastly, I am implored to address your feeling like an outsider in your pursuit of understanding who you are and where you come from. I have been there. I totally understand and I know that even I, who comes from the opposite side of worldview, has and still continues with that pursuit. I hope to remind you that you are not an outsider. Not at all. Our views may differ but that doesn’t change that you are CHamoru. You don’t have to speak the language or look a certain way to be CHamoru.

    What I do think is important to note is that while on this quest for self-identification, I have found that what CHamoru means to you is defined by you WHILE taking stock of your interaction with the people. Sure, there are cultural norms and value shared. But what it means to be CHamoru is defined by you, how you engage with your environment and people and especially based on the person you want to be in the bigger picture.

    Being “fully decolonized” mental/culturally (I believe) doesn’t mean relinquishing all western practices and perspective. But I do think what is a guiding base to being is ensuring “full decolonization” is that the indigenous people become the decision-makers of who, what, how, when and where regarding the indigenous people.

    I hope these words only bring you comfort. Dångkolo na si yu’os ma’åse’ Ray

    Sar ginen Guåhan

    Like

  2. Ray,
    You said” indigenous people that have to live each day in the forefront of their situation, while western scholars interpret what they perceive rather than living it themselves,” I think this is gold. Most of our history was written by scholars who read Magellan’s journals, but never once stepped foot on our land.
    You also mention describing what you know, feel, and live but from a western perspective, I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, it’s how we were taught to address research and academia. “Decolonizing” our minds, and the way we go about education won’t happen over night, but I think recognizing that you approach it from a western perspective might be the first step to changing your methods.
    Also, I don’t think you need to be a pure-blood (and really, how many are really pure) to consider yourself CHamoru.

    Like

  3. Aloha Raymond,
    I appreciate your transparency and self-awareness. As you may know, those two things are very important to me. I feel it’s through seeking truth, then being truthful– that we can navigate this complex world of identity, politics, decolonization.
    I was struck by your statement below:
    A western perspective allows Social Work to be objective, yet in hindsight both sides are subjective.
    What a powerful way to describe this truth–succinct, clear, impactful. Thank you.
    Aloha
    Napua

    Like

  4. Objectivity and subjectivity are difficult topics to tackle, especially given our worldview. You are right that even as a native person, we often interpret them from a western lens because that is what is so ingrained in us. From that sense, most are outsiders. I think for me, it all depends on who is in control of the narrative. Both are subjective, and maybe there is no real objectivity, but when the narrative comes from those in power, the story is likely to be altered. So, I think it is more about power than objectivity. Mike

    Like

  5. Hello Raymond!

    When you mentioned, “I identify as a native to Guam, but doing research for a Chamoru studies class, to truly indigenous people with pure blood lines to the land, I am left feeling like an outsider. Through my research I am still attempting to understand the people with a western perspective. I am still looked as an outsider, which gives me the perspective of an outsider.” this surprised me, and as a non-indigenous person living on Guam, I personally view all CHamoru people as native “insiders” and not as “outsiders.” However, in your blog, I can see why you expressed yourself as being an “outsider” and I think the way you did was quite humbling in that you recognized the strong Western influence in your life growing up and in continuation. I think this is great though because I believe in order to tackle decolonization we must first be aware of all the colonized influences that impact our lives, which you are well aware of.

    Until the next blog,
    Aurea 🙂

    Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: