Karen Martin says “Research is a tool of colonialism”

Martin’s research is so refreshing!  I can’t seem to find the link to the actual chapter online but here are a couple of the places you can find her work:



“Research can help understand problems, or it can perpetuate problems. This is particularly evident in research that involves Aboriginal people because the power dynamics exist in multiple ways and almost always benefit the researcher more than the researched…therefore, research is a tool of colonialism” (Martin, 2010, p. 86). She grabbed my attention right away at this statement and the flow of the rest of the chapter really lead  me to new understanding about the appropriation of voice.  The article reminded me of all sorts of things and I could go on forever but here is a smattering of the tangents I thought about:

  • Why are aboriginals in the Western parts of Canada treated with more respect and equity than the Eastern parts?  Is it because Colonialism started from the East?

  • Martin later says “Decolonisation is crucial to the achievement of Aboriginal sovereignty” (p. 95).  While I believe this is true, does it mean that Canadian aboriginals will have to leave the dominion of Canada in order to ever feel that they have sovereignty?

  • I’ve often thought that Australia and New Zealand are at least 10 years ahead of Canada in terms of how they have made reparations for past treatment and moving towards a collaborative relationship with aboriginal people.  Is Canada able to make the same headway?  Can research methods help pave the way?

Martin, K. (2010).  Indigenous research.  In G. Naughton, S. Rolfe, & I. Siraj-Blatchford (Eds.), Doing early childhood research: International perspectives on theory & practice (pp. 85 – 100).  Bershire, UK: McGraw-Hill.

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