Positioning Research: Shifting Paradigms, Interdisciplinarity and Indigeneity Edited by Dr Margaret Kumar and Dr Supriya Pattanayak
SAGE India: https://in.sagepub.com/en-in/sas/positioning-research/book262969/
SAGE UK: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/positioning-research/book262969/
SAGE US: : https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/positioning-research/book262969
The seeds for this book, Positioning Research: Shifting Paradigms, Interdisciplinarity and Indigeneity, were sown with the term ‘dilemma’. We found that we were always at loggerheads deliberating on issues that were at times confusing, puzzling and at other times downright confounding. There was a constant shuffling and reshuffling of thoughts which often led to a predicament on how to address and relate to issues. We could say that a large part of this predicament came from the fact that we were encompassing anomalous social environments from differing continents and countries, living within cultures that are often referred to in a superficial, perfunctory manner as ‘diverse’ but which comprise intense, in-depth, highly stratified educational and sociocultural norms and values which often go unnoticed. Aligned to this issue is language. We saw language as an embodiment of the being of individuals one that positioned, connected and reconnected the individual through various pathways.
We could also say that our predicament was a moral obligation to advance scholarship. Above all, we could say that basically our dilemma was how to get the right thing done by our research students whom we were training to be independent and ethical researchers. All these issues led to a lot of debate and discussion on our part. It made us realize that we were at the crossroads of ‘what is research’.
Our first question of ‘what is research’ led us to the next one which was how best to advance that research through knowledge. Coming from two different continents, where there is a large presence of Indigenous and tribal populations, we have constantly debated the many tenets of knowledge including knowledge production and knowledge that is valued. We began to interrogate the relationship between knowledge and research and subsequently how to position that research. This led us to challenge the various positions we have ourselves held while at the same time listen to silences, absences, gaps and invisibilities expressed (or not) by students and colleagues.
In reflecting over the experiences and insights gained as a collective group, we found that some of our contributors experienced the same quandary of what to write by asking questions such as ‘what are you talking about’; ‘how can we do this’ and ‘what is research’. The questions started a chain reaction, so to speak. What we mean is that the initial response to our invitation to contribute a chapter was a flow of questions encapsulated in the following: ‘how can you say that you position research instead of locating research?’ ‘How can we cross disciplines that have discrete boundaries?’ ‘What indigeneity; has that not been taken care of?’ We also noticed that this chain reaction evoked in the giver of the question, the urge to re-search what they knew or in fact, stretch the boundaries of that knowledge. This, we believe, opened the floodgates to another raft of perceptions of ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ research should be positioned rather than located in the areas of shifting paradigms, interdisciplinarity and indigeneity. That led to the unique contributions of the chapters. Increasingly, we began to see the interplay between ontologies, epistemologies and methodologies, especially in interdisciplinary and Indigenous research. Grappling with these issues led us to different cultural and research groups undergoing related dilemmas.
Through the research continuum of this edited collection, we aim to provide avenues that transition into the ‘third space’ where negotiation and dialogue are central to our exploration and discussion of research frameworks. Further, we aim to explore alternate ways of doing research, taking into account the impact of social media and new forms of knowledge. We also aim to uphold and acknowledge that different methodologies are equally valid and valued in contributing to new knowledge. The structure follows a thematic progression of: ‘Perspectives from Early Career Researchers’ to ‘Indigenous and New Knowledge Systems’ and ‘Theoretical Approaches and Case Study’. It concludes with a chapter on ‘Extrapolating Research’,
Our aim in writing this book, therefore, was to go beyond the dominant paradigms and recognize the interconnectedness, relationality and holistic nature of lived experiences and realities. A further aim was to critique existing methodological paradigms and provide new perceptions of phenomena encompassing various trajectories. As part of our objectives, we elucidate the irrelevance of certain methodologies and/or analytic categories to cultural frameworks. We critically engage with debates around particularism and universalism, difference and commonality. We provide a revalidation and legitimation of a history and tradition, which has been subjugated by the hegemony of Eurocentric and or Western theorizing.
In following these aims and objectives, we show how we position research especially in relation to shifting paradigms, interdisciplinarity and indigeneity. In relation to this, in extrapolating the contribution of our contributors, who comprise early career researchers, academics, practitioners, researchers and scholars, we present the metaphor of ‘leaves and leafing’. ‘Leaves and leafing’ denotes the many facets of positioning research that this book has sought to ‘unearth’ and the way these have been ‘scattered’ in the arena of research. Our gathering of the many facets of this ‘scattering’ involved a diligent ‘leafing’ through the many perspectives that were sent for review. The purpose behind this was to give our audience the best focus. In this way, we believe our ‘leaves and leafing’ metaphor depicts an unfolding of the varied perspectives that evolve to the conceptualization of shifting paradigms. It also depicts the way these shifting paradigms move into the ‘fields’ of interdisciplinarity and indigeneity to give us insights into how research can be viewed and positioned.
In leafing through the chapters, we expose our readers to what we term the ‘researchscape’ that traverses many fields. In this, we foreground the purview of ‘the gaze’ as perceived by the contributors. Our focus in foregrounding indigeneity is to foreground the many nations that comprise Indigenous communities around the world. We also acknowledge the many stratifications and hierarchical systems that contribute to the build-up of the many communities that comprise a nation. We foreground the tenuous nature of indigeneity by outlining how this term is conceptualized by organizations and communities. Our purpose in deconstructing the concept of interdisciplinarity is to indicate paradigm shifts that could involve movement between disciplines rather than conducting research within discrete and what we term ‘disciplinic silos’. This in no way determines that in the carrying out of the study and or project that one discipline or body of knowledge will be compromised. Rather it determines a complementarity without binary axes and or anomalies leading to an ‘unearthing’ and unfolding of new perspectives in research through a structure that is unified, yet different.
What this leads to is a process of ‘enabling’ where there is seamless boundary crossing into research projects that develop a performative stance of extending scholarship through ‘new’ knowledge systems, instrumental research tools and practice research.
Salient features emerging from this collaborative undertaking has brought together scholars, researchers, academicians and practitioners from different disciplines and theoretical orientations to discuss their perceptions of knowledge and scholarship. The discussion has questioned the availability of methodologies to respond to different ways of knowing and doing. It has highlighted the problematic nature of the contexts in which research questions are conceptualized and designed, and the implications of the research for the various partners and the communities that participate.
In this, we are being conscientiously pedantic in emphasizing the prefix ‘re’ in arguing that by re-examining, re-viewing and re-searching the knowledge base that constitute research; we are bringing about a synthesis of disciplines, epistemologies and ontologies to re-generate existing structures as well as ‘unearth’ new knowledge. In turning to the last leaf of our ‘leafing and leaves’ metaphor, questions are asked to facilitate a moving into a ‘third space’ where negotiation and dialogue are central to exploration and discussion of research frameworks. Thus, Positioning Research: Shifting Paradigms, Interdisciplinarity and Indigeneity emphasises that for research to continue, in a world that is increasingly becoming a global village, the exchange of knowledge is critical to engendering new fields of inquiry.
Dr Margaret Kumar is Adjunct Professor at Centurion University of Technology and Management, Odisha, India. She has been appointed Senior Fellow (Honorary) at the University of Melbourne, Australia. Dr Kumar has worked at the University of Melbourne and Deakin University, Australia, in several faculties and at the Institute of Koorie Education, Deakin University, Victoria, Australia. Her forte lies in her multi-skilled qualities. She has a diversified experience of being an academic, an academic skills adviser, a Higher Degree by Research Language and Learning Advisor, Senior Lecturer in Teaching, Research and Research Support, Master of Education Co-ordinator, Strand Coordinator of International Education, Lecturer in Applied Linguistics and Lecturer in Language and Literacy Education. She has a deep cultural and educational awareness of the ethos of Indigenous societies and its diverse knowledge systems. This arises from her educational, cultural and social background. She has a high level of experience in interacting with cultures where protocol, hierarchical systems, customs, norms and values are integral parts of daily living, in facilitating communication within and among different educational, cultural and individual groups. She speaks several languages and has a Catholic, Hindu, Pacific and Western upbringing. Throughout her personal and professional development, she has lived with people from a number of cultures and diasporic communities. This coupled with experiential learning and teaching gives her an acute awareness of what is involved in capacity building for marginalized societies. To this end, she has a long track record of research and publications in areas such as: Indigeneity and Aboriginal cultures; new knowledge systems; cross-cultural understandings; cultures of learning; global literacies; internationalizing the curriculum and interdisciplinarity. She espouses knowledge that views pedagogy as a social practice and helps students learn within a holistic and comprehensive curriculum. She utilizes theoretical frameworks and methodologies to translate teaching and learning principles into practice. Her work in the area of cross-cultural and intercultural exchanges has been instrumental in supporting research students in bringing ‘new’ Knowledge Systems to the academy and the scholarship of learning.
Dr Supriya Pattanayak is presently the Deputy Vice Chancellor at the Centurion University of Technology and Management (CUTM)—the first multi-sectoral, state-regulated private university in Odisha, India. While being primarily in an administrative role, she is also involved in teaching, research and consulting. She is also involved in an advisory capacity in the social enterprise initiatives of the University, Gram Tarang Employability and Training Services, Gram Tarang Inclusive Development Ltd, Gram Tarang Foods and the Urban Micro Business Center. She has published extensively in the field of social work and research methodology. Dr Pattanayak has also been appointed as Adjunct Professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University, Melbourne, and is a Research Fellow at the St Petersburg State University, Russia. She has her qualifications from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (MA) and the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (MPhil), India and RMIT University, Australia (PhD). She has an extensive teaching, research and policy experience, and her research interest is in the field of gender and development, education of indigenous people, sustainable livelihoods and social work pedagogy in different contexts. She has worked with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), multilateral and bilateral agencies, federal and state governments and universities in India and Australia. In her role as State Representative (Odisha), Department for International Development India (British High Commission), she worked collaboratively with various development partners in pursuance of harmonization of development efforts and achievement of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
© Margaret Kumar and Supriya Pattanayak