Breathing out 'the songs that want to be sung': A dialogue on research, colonization and pedagogy focused on the Canadian Arctic.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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This thesis considers questioning of rigid conceptions of identity with regards the parallel and integrated contexts of the Canadian Arctic and academia. The text has been written as a conversation between texts written by Inuit (the source literature) and non-Inuit. I have searched and analyzed these sources on the broad themes of research, colonization and pedagogy.
The theme of research is a guide for the first section of this thesis where I locate the research by detailing my rationales and methodologies. My objective to conduct this research ethically, responsible to writings by Inuit and others represented within this thesis, led me to use a literary approach considered by some as non-standard within the social sciences. Drawing only on secondary texts for this research, reading and writing are my methodologies and I utilize intertextuality as a theoretical and methodological guide.
The theme of colonization in the Canadian Arctic provides a main focus for the second and third sections of the thesis. I review perspectives both on colonization in the Canadian Arctic, and contemporary social health challenges, and consider these in relation to the educational sphere most specifically. Colonization is discussed as something that has incurred trauma for Inuit, and as something that Inuit seek to be resilient to, but I emphasize a need to recognize diversities within the colonization and contemporary experiences of Inuit. I discuss that narratives can be misleading and potentially harmful, particularly when there is an overreliance on rigid externally-defined narratives which conflict with internal conceptions of identity. And I discuss how narratives can also be affirming, particularly when an individual has agency over the construction and the sharing processes. I consider the writings within the source literature as enactments of resilience through inherent questioning of hegemonic ‘truths’.
Pedagogy is a thematic guide for the fourth section of the thesis. I suggest that under the intangible terminologies of ‘overcoming trauma’ or ‘resilience over colonization’ sit pedagogies that Inuit discuss whereby such ideals may be pursued. Learning theorists focussed more broadly promote critiques of mainstream pedagogies and ideal pedagogies similar to those discussed by Inuit. Considering these connections leads to an articulation of five characteristics of ideal pedagogies for coming to new understandings on difference: 1) a need to revalue diversities and ‘soft’ skills such as imagination; 2) a tolerance of an individual’s need for freedom to define one’s own identity; 3) a conceptualization of pedagogy as a contextualized way of living rather than a decontextualized activity; 4) the importance of a dialogic pedagogy and humility of both teacher/learner; and 5) the promotion of a cognizance, through pedagogy, that essentialisms are necessary but also potentially misleading and damaging. Such an articulation of ideal pedagogies has also guided my own learning within this research.
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