This book addresses the critical question of reciprocity in the research process, especially (though not exclusively) in regard to working with Indigenous Communities. This transdisciplinary collection is edited by geographer R.D.K. Herman of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and includes essays by a wide variety of international practitioners at various stages of their careers, from several different countries.
How can scholars best give back to the communities in which they conduct their research? This critical question arises from a long history of colonial scholarship that exploited study subjects by taking knowledge without giving anything in return. It is a problem faced by all field researchers, even those working in their own communities.
Over the past several decades—and especially since the evolution of feminist methodologies, participatory research, and the post-colonial turn in the 1990s—there have been calls for research to be less exploitative, but also for researchers and for the research itself to give something back. Giving Back: Research and Reciprocity in Indigenous Settings addresses the need for reciprocity in the research process, especially (though not exclusively) in regard to Indigenous Communities.
The twelve case studies in this volume demonstrate that giving back can happen through the research itself – through the careful framing of questions, co-production of knowledge, and dissemination of results – but also through the day-to-day actions and attitudes of researchers that inevitably occur in the field. It can range from everyday give and take, to the sharing of research materials, to larger and longer-term engagements.
As practitioners of community-based research gain greater awareness of these issues, scholars and institutions need guidance and strategies for ensuring reciprocity in the research process. This volume presents a variety of situations from a wide range of research contexts, discussing what has and hasn’t worked, and exploring what issues remain.