Too Many Deaths: Decolonizing Western Academic Research on Indigenous Cultures
By Gabrielle Welford
A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Division of the University of Hawaii in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English, May 2003
© 2003 Gabrielle Welford (welford@hawaii.edu)

Inbetween II

 
Main
 

Title Page, Acknowledgements, Abstract, Table of Contents, Preface

 
Chapter 1 - Introduction
 
Inbetween I
 
Chapter 2 -Approaching Scholarship
 
Inbetween II
 
Chapter 3 - The Western Academy Described: Purpose and Means
 
Inbetween III
 
Chapter 4 - Objectivity
 
Inbetween IV
 
Chapter 5 - Externalization of Viewpoint Unwillingness to be Affected
 
Inbetween V
 
Chapter 6 - Fact and Fiction Written vs. Oral Linear Argument
 
Inbetween VI
 
Chapter 7 - Modes of Thought Effects
 
Inbetween VII
 
Chapter 8 - Examples
 
Inbetween VIII
 
Chapter 9 - What Are Our Options?
 
Inbetween IX
 
Chapter 10 - Conclusion Responsibility
 
Bibliography

 

  Inbetween II

How painfully I came to write this dissertation. How I resisted doing this particular thing. How I would much rather have dived into a creative piece. How hard it's been all along. How the folks kept pushing and encouraging me on. No, I said, no. Yes, they said, yes.

Someone said, at one point, that indigenous friends wanting me to finish so they could cite me is not enough to get me through a dissertation. And yes, maybe not. But it's the most important thing for me right now. Nothing else, I think, would have got me through. The love and encouragement, the chiding, the guiding, suggestions and questions, and more arms round me. The community that stood behind and around me as I have written all the versions and reversions has not been the academic community. It has been the community whose call for abeyance in studying them I am regarding and recording.

You probably know, who're reading this, that friendship isn't always easy and lovely. There are fights and confrontations, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, stalkings out, but I have arrived here. A place where friendships mean more to me than research, than having something intelligent to say, than success in my field (of battle?--where does that metaphor come from?), than acing my defense (more battle?), than being right about what I'm saying. My friend Donna writes:

Why in the world must anyone 'defend' their ideas, why not 'present,' be present with, offer, offer up...even play with, even enjoy, even change, grow, etc., etc., etc. Why couldn't the unconsciously held notion be that each person in that room with you expected to be changed, affected, etc. What if you came out of that room, that interaction with a whole new construct, going in a whole new direction with your thoughts. What if something entirely new elaborated out of the interaction. Why could not that be the greatest success, the true indicator of your status as an educator, a thinker, an intellectual, a teacher, etc..

The margins of this dissertation are squiggly; they fade in and out; shift; turn to mist and come back over there. Am I right and that's an end to it? The last word? More questions, more questions roll in. More uncertainties....thank goodness!

Yesterday, I went with Keala to Noenoe's to help her finish up a chapter of her book. They've been helping me all along (with Lynette and Mahealani Kamau'u and other friends who've offered encouragement, information, opinions, hugs) with this dissertation. First we yelled and wondered over a photo in the newspaper of a lava flow on Hawai'i. It has a face at the top of it. We all want a copy. Then we ate breakfast--late--they'd been waiting for me--after pule. We worked on the chapter for hours, enjoying every minute of it. I hadn't read it all. I'm too taken up with this writing and had mixed up the times we were to meet. So I stayed after Keala left and finished up my comments.

We ended up going out to dinner with a visiting friend of Noe's. He has a Ph.D. in philosophy and studied Wittgenstein. What a joy for me! More than a gift back from Noenoe to be able to talk to him about the deeply ethical and mystical being that is Wittgenstein and about my professor Peter Winch, whom he likes too. He's Anishinabe and talked some about the connection between indigenous storytelling and what LW does in the Investigations and other post-Tractatus writings/lectures. We talked about the ways practice and method can walk around theorizing. About the traps of theory.

Change and interchange. Gift and re-gift. Deepening our friendships. Asking and knowing we'll be asked. Glad of it--to have something to offer. To have something to ask for.

How else can we teach indigenous literatures, politics, economy, psychology, than ask someone who knows from the inside to visit our classrooms and help? Noe laughed yesterday when I said some of us haoles think it might be presumptuous to ask. She so welcomes the chance to talk freely to a classroom of eager young people about the stuff that lives in her heart and very good mind. She wants to share what she knows. I have yet to meet a Kanaka Maoli who isn't delighted for the space to share. Isn't our presumptuousness in thinking we know how they will respond?

     
   

From:
Too Many Deaths: Decolonizing Western Academic Research on Indigenous Cultures
By Gabrielle Welford
A dissertation submitted to the Graduate Division of the University of Hawaii in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English, May 2003
© 2003 Gabrielle Welford (welford@hawaii.edu)