Tuesday, October 15, 2013

research as gospel potential

“Critical qualitative research is a situated activity that locates the gendered observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that make the world visible. These practices are forms of critical pedagogy. They transform the world.” (Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, 5)

Wow. Research that transforms. Now that’s a process, an activity, a culture worth being part of. That’s the goal of our Master and Doctor of Ministry at Uniting College, especially our Missional Masters cohort. Transform the world – beginning with participants and their communities.

Returning to the reading, it cites the work of Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples, who provides examples of this type of research that transforms. She lists 25 indigenous research projects. These create, name, democratize, reclaim, protect, remember, restore, and celebrate. In research, these stories are told. They are not utopian for they “map concrete performances that lead to positive social transformations. They embody ways of resisting the process of colonization.” (Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, 12)

I was thinking about this yesterday as the urban mission vision of Jeremiah was being discussed. Seek the welfare of the city. Marry. Plant gardens. These were the invitation to create, name, restore, celebrate, the power of a minority group, in a dominant culture, to survive. This is what the church is today, a minority group that is invited into a creative, en-culturated relationship with Western consumer culture. Essential to this will be a set of practices.

Let me be practical. On Sunday I was part of making a solar oven. That’s a urban mission vision of an alternative practice of life. To use the oven is a sustainable way to care for the environment. It will mean a different pace of life, as cooking takes longer, so needs to start earlier, and with eating times dictated by the sun. It’s an alternative way of living, in the midst of Western consumerism.

And then comes the research, which will uncover these practices. For example the work of a student I was reading last week, on mainstreet theology. Or the student studying how local church op shops can be missional. Or the student researching how church communities in mining communities read the Zaccheus story.

“Accordingly, the purpose of research is not the production of knowledge per se. Rather, the purposes are pedagogical, political, moral, and ethical, involving the enhancement of moral agency, the production of moral discernment, a commitment to praxis, justice, an ethic of resistance, and a performative pedagogy that resists oppression.” (Handbook of Critical and Indigenous Methodologies, 14)

Posted by steve at 09:24 PM


  1. Hi Steve,

    You may like my conclusion from my last guided reflection:

    In particle physics, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is based on the fact that you cannot observe something without changing it. I am rapidly learning that you cannot use the methodologies we use without changing our communities and ourselves.

    Comment by David Ferguson — October 15, 2013 @ 9:48 pm

  2. Hi Steve. The last paragraph you quote really strikes at me and my writing and work.

    Comment by Bruce Grindlay — October 17, 2013 @ 11:47 am

  3. Yes Bruce. This post is indeed an affirmation of your work and more importantly the motives that lie behind your project. Be encouraged, it is a worthy project, that deserves the time to bring it to thesis reality, in all it’s complexity and nuance. Because, discernment, praxis, justice, et al takes time and careful articulation.

    Keep at it


    Comment by steve — October 17, 2013 @ 11:58 am

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