“Research on Our Own Terms” by Eve Tuck: A thread by a listener

On May 1, 2019, Eve Tuck addressed attendees of the Labrador Research Forum in the Labrador Interpretation Centre in North West River, across the river from Sheshatshiu. Her talk was proceeded by a deep and intelligent testimony from Deputy Grand Cheif Etienne Rich of Innu Nation, where he detailed the way research has harmed the community, undermining self-determination.

The following is a Twitter thread of the talk by a listener, corrected for grammar and type-os from tweeting in the dark.
Labrador Research Forum (#LRF2019) keynote by @evetuck on Research On Our Terms.
Featuring many pictures of seals.
And wisdom that burns.
A thread from a listener:


: Decolonial and participatory research are not inherently more ethical.
Research, as it is now, isn’t viable for just Indigenous futures.

These trends of participation are bringing more and more researchers, more contact, to our doorsteps. That’s a tension.

: Beware of success stories where youth have to leave their home communities. (Including education, I assume. Research ‘opportunities’ can be part of this ‘success’ narrative that takes ppl off of homelands)

: “we live here. We are experts too”
We have institutions too. Research can call attention to experience rather than damage.
And here’s some seals and relatives. Seals are some of the most researched animals in the world.

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: seal harvesting was linked to … these stories aren’t for sharing, I don’t think. Next tweet.

: The crisis between the colonial and violent legacies and norms of Research and having those legacies be part of our communities AS Indigenous researchers is never resolved.

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: I am ambivalent about research. (Hells yes)

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: EFFECTIVELY DOCUMENTING HARM AND DAMAGE IS ASSUMED TO LEAD TO CHANGE AND JUSTICE. This is a colonial theory of change. See: “Suspending damage” by Eve Tuck for the full argument

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: Basically: documentation about how we are broken is supposed to convince those in power/ who benefit from power to change.
This just makes us sound damaged. Defeated. Broken.

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: Colonial concepts of power = power is scarce. It is for being used against others. But indigenous stories about power are about abundance.

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: awareness theories of change assume that change hasn’t happened b/c of a lack of knowledge.
Ask ourselves: what if settlers knowing didn’t change anything?
What if we didn’t wait for others to know and were inspired by our own knowing?

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(I’m going to start crying in this talk.)

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: how do we develop a research ethic that differentiates between power and people?
What does research really do? Research is a human activity— why do we work? Dance? Do ceremony? Do research?

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: individual ethics consent is a privatizing if knowledge, tissues, samples. Like property.
But these aren’t ours to give away. They’re us.

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: the myth: that the oppressed need change and social science will bring that change. But research is not always the most useful or appropriate tool.
@tuckeve’s list of when research is NOT needed:

Power point slide with text (text transcribed below in caption)
Research is not needed when:
– The researcher already has a very clear sense of what she wants her research to say or do
– The research is constructed to convince a group of people of something that they are completely closed to hearing
– The research is meant to legitimize community knowledge that is already deeply recognized within the community
– The researcher would like to say something that has already been said, but this time in the voices of youth, community, Elders, (and so on)
– There is too much at stake for a research process to reveal findings that counter a researcher’s or community’s position on an issue.

: “Sometimes, you don’t need research, you just need a billboard” or blogs, spokespeople, community talking tours, art, postcards… you could be doing these things instead of research.

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: it’s university’s jobs to address settler colonialism and anti-blackness. Redistributing wealth of universities is part of repair for how they got their wealth.

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: decolonization is jumping out of the boat and swimming away like that fish you almost caught that time, even if you still have a hook or even a whole pole still attached to you.

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: Three questions for communities to consider about research:
What is our theory of change?
What is the role of research in our theory of change? What are our research needs as we bring about the changes we want to happen in our community?
What is the role, if any, of university researchers in our theory of change?

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: Possible roles for research in our (Indigenous community’s) theories of change:
(Maybe there is a role for university researchers in these, but maybe not)

Power point slide with text (transcribed below in caption_
Possible roles for research in our theories if change:
– Uncovering the quiet thoughts and beliefs of a community
– Mapping the variety and complexity of ideas in a community
– Making generational knowledge of Elders, youth, parents, warriors, hunters, leaders, gardeners, fishers, teachers, and others available to other generations – Finding ways to use Indigenous languages to express ideas, and to bring new language to new and recovered ideas
– Learning about and circulating the flow of of knowledge in a community

 

MC @AshleeCunsolo talks about the phenomenon of being #TuckedUp, where her work disrupts your way of thinking & doing so much you have to stop. Revaluate. Start over on another path.
: Instead of going into Q&A immediately, talk to your neighbour about how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking.

Ask each other: what do you want to ask? Is that actually a question? Is it something that needs to be asked in public here? Does it move us forward? Peer-reviewed Q&A!

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From the Q&A: narratives about being ‘first’ from your community, your family, etc to get PhD, go to uni… erases other types of success (even other firsts), is competitive, is frontiersm (last one is my term, not Tuck’s)

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From the Q&A: any research that situates a researcher (Indigenous or not) as knowing more than a community means you’re researching behind backs instead of looking in the same direction.

 

Suggested Citation: Liboiron, Max (@maxliboiron). 2019. “#LRF2019 “keynote by @evetuck on Research On Our Terms. And wisdom that burns. A thread from a listener.” Twitter, May 1, 6:15 p.m. https://twitter.com/MaxLiboiron/status/1123757798125395971.