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 IV

 
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 IV

I went back to school to get an M.A. because I'm a writer. That was when I was 44 and my daughter was four, my son 2. We'd just found an apartment after living in a school bus for a year. I began researching a writer--that sounds so strange!--I am a writer--from another culture because the professor who taught the research class for years at Sonoma State in California always asked students to choose someone who writes in English but is not Anglo--to do an original research project on 'em. Mary TallMountain, Paula's old and dear friend, lived a mere 15 minutes away from me. I had met her once at a reading of Paula's. Why would I choose a person in a book when someone living and breathing was right nearby? The idea was scary and alive. And then it wasn't just a project anymore because Mary and I fell into each others' arms and became friends.

What brought Mary and me together so magically? We were whirled peas in a colonial blender, keenly smart and sensitive young'uns, torn from home, damaged goods reclaimed with great effort over time. We were writers. Writing helped heal us from the limb wrenching of being pulled from family, hurled over and over into new places, new people. Better to forget somehow, to black out. But we didn't.

So there we arrived together only a year or so before Mary died and we saw each other instantly, Inbetweens. I used to sit on the floor beside her couch after we'd had tea, and we talked about the way the world goes. Once she told me how on a morning years before, she picked up the gun from beside the bed she'd woken up in with an unknown man. He was in the bathroom. She looked at it as seriously as one can look and somehow decided at that moment to live. Living hadn't been a given. Certainly living hasn't been a given.

We read each others' poetry at readings. She loved the crazy word play and made up languages of mine. I loved the deep heart and lyric of hers. We laughed when we read too, laughed all the time. She even laughed when she got words wrong--aphasia she suffered after the stroke just before we met. How she could laugh at that I don't know. She was a writer and couldn't write anymore, couldn't get the words. Couldn't go to readings anymore even though she'd still get letters and letters in the mail asking her to come. Maybe that's why she liked my poetry--can make up words and not care. She got annoyed with me though--I read her poetry too fast, didn't get the inside of her that way. You had to hear her read, breathing into each word.

"The project" of writing about a non-Anglo writer who writes in English shifted as soon as I walked in that door because she wasn't a project. The study became personal, and I was part of it. That didn't come out in what I wrote except in the love I hope came through the words and how I went about it. It came out in the paper I gave at the MLA after her death. I saw and felt her frustration with being more housebound (she didn't drive and lived out of town), her ankle hurting her, her balking at the over-attentiveness of her friends because it was clear she wasn't the self she had known. I drove her places--out to the coast once to practice reading each others' poetry, to the bank, down to the Bay Area to a reading, to a showing of a film she was in--talked and shared tea, brought my children around. The papers I produced didn't show the relationship, only Mary as I saw her. I removed myself because that's what you do, isn't it?

I question. I question. I don't think so anymore.

     
   

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)