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)