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Accepted Paper:

Decolonizing research methods in South Africa: teaching, knowledge and experience.  
Fraser McNeill (University of Pretoria )

Paper short abstract:

This paper turns the classroom into an object of ethnographic analysis by discussing the complexities of teaching Research Methods to postgraduate students in a South African University. It compares different students' experiences of and ways of applying 'decolonialism' in theory and in practice.

Paper long abstract:

This papers consists of an autoethnographic account about teaching Research Methods to postgraduate students in a South African University. The paper traces contemporary experiences of Higher Education by analysing the expectations, understandings and frustrations of Honours students embarking on their first research projects, to ways of encouraging 'deep ontological engagement' with PhD students working on systems of belief and Indigenous Knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa. Within the wider context of student (and faculty) calls for 'decolonisation' of curricula in South Africa, this paper examines what 'decolonization' might look like for Research Methods, as a compulsory postgraduate course, and how processes of producing knowledge translate into student experiences as they conduct fieldwork and write ethnography. I argue that 'decolonization' remains such a nebulous term (for students and lecturers alike) that it has become 'up for grabs'. The potentialities for anthropology in the region are significant, but so, it would appear from the evidence to be presented, is the possibility of the term being employed in very different ways once it has left the classroom, enters the research arena then emerges as ethnography in written text. What does it mean for different students in this context to write a 'decolonial' ethnography of their research projects? How ought we supervise this intellectual matrix for the mutual benefit of students, interlocutors, lecturers and the discipline of anthropology more widely? Based on recent personal experience of writing and teaching a research methods syllabus and supervising postgraduate students, I try to unpack these and other questions.

Panel D08
The global challenge of decolonising anthropology: how do our critical pedagogies lead to shifts in research praxis?
  Session 1 Friday 6 September, 2019, -