Decolonising Methodology: Who Benefits From Indigenous Knowledge Research?


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Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

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It is common for indigenous knowledge (IK) researchers in South Africa to conduct studies within conventional Western paradigms, especially in the field of IK-science curriculum integration. The scientific paradigm usually takes precedence and research publishing follows the rules of the academy. There is an inherent paradox in this practice. An endeavour that aims to redress Western knowledge hegemony and decolonise the school science curriculum often judges its own value in terms of the very system it critiques. While much useful work has been done in IK-science curriculum integration, and calls are made for appreciating both knowledge systems, it is concerning that the research knowledge is available to academics and generally not to indigenous communities who are usually cocontributors (at least) to the research data. This paper argues for research processes and outcomes that could benefit indigenous communities. We present examples drawn from three science curriculum studies in different areas of South Africa. We briefly describe the research contexts, and the ways that the researchers sought to ensure knowledge was shared in relevant representations with each community. We also discuss some of the dilemmas we encountered and offer suggestions for strengthening knowledge dissemination, appreciation, preservation, as well as reimagining IK for new generations.




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