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Accepted Paper:

Decolonising Ethnography in Practice: Insights from the Pacific Context  
Carles Jornet (The University of Sydney)

Paper Short Abstract:

How can non-Indigenous scholars apply decolonial approaches emerged from Indigenous methodological trends? The notion of habitus assimilation is presented as a methodological insight challenging the hierarchical dynamics historically associated with anthropological research in Indigenous contexts.

Paper Abstract:

Following the call for decolonisation of research methodologies concerning Indigenous Peoples (Smith, 2008), Pacific research methodologies have emerged as a growing trend in social sciences challenging the unbalanced hierarchies faced by Pacific communities in research contexts (Leenen-Young & Uperesa, 2023; Naepi, 2019). This decolonial approach prioritises the inclusion of local epistemologies, ontologies, and sociocultural values in the research project. In other words, it encourages Pacific scholars to conduct research from a Pacific perspective. This scenario gives rise to a question which constitutes the central topic of this presentation: how can non-Indigenous scholars apply decolonial approaches emerged from Indigenous methodological trends?

This paper presents the concept of 'habitus assimilation' (Jornet, 2021) as a methodological approach to challenge the hierarchical dynamics that have historically defined anthropological research in Indigenous contexts. Assimilating the habitus means to learn and integrate the local habitus in order to accustom oneself to a specific group, and interact with individuals in accordance with the structuring codes of their own social life. Drawing from his personal experience working with the Polynesian community of Rapa Nui, the author explores how this approach allows for the application of Pacific research methodologies in ethnographic fieldwork, as a non-Indigenous researcher.

This contribution aims to put forward a practical example of how decoloniality might be implemented through deferential research practices. In addition, this presentation invites reflection on the obstacles encountered by researchers in the endeavor of incorporating decolonial practices into contemporary research processes.

Panel P172
What’s in a name? A reality check on recent claims and practices of decolonising anthropology
  Session 1 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -