Autoethnography is an increasingly popular form of postpositivist narrative inquiry that has recently begun to appear in educational contexts. The multiple lineages of autoethnography include the insider accounts of early anthropologists, literary approaches to life history and autobiography, responses to the ontological/epistemological challenges of postmodern philosophies, feminist and postcolonial insistence on including narratives of the marginalized, performance and communication scholarship, and the interest in personal stories of contemporary therapeutic and trauma cultures. Approaches vary widely from fragmented, experimental, performative, and multimodal texts through to realist tales. Advocates claim that autoethnography enables us to live more reflective, more meaningful, and more just lives.
Michelle Bryan and Ashlee Lewis
As a form of applied research, program evaluation is concerned with determining the worth, merit, or value of a program or project using various research methods. Over the past 20 years, the field of program evaluation has seen an expansion in the number of approaches deemed useful in accomplishing the goals of an evaluation. One of the newest approaches to the practice of evaluation is culturally responsive evaluation. Practitioners of CRE draw from a “responsive approach” to evaluation that involves being attuned to and responsive toward not only the program itself, but also its larger cultural context and the lives and experiences of program staff and stakeholders. CRE views culture broadly as the totality of shared beliefs, behaviors, values, and customs socially transmitted within a group and which shapes group members’ world view and ways of life. Further, with respect to their work, culturally responsive evaluators share similar commitments with scholars to critical qualitative inquiry, including a belief in moving inquiry (evaluation) beyond description to intervention in the pursuit of progressive social change, as well as positioning their work as a means by which to confront injustices in society, particularly the marginalization of people of color. Owing to these beliefs and aims, culturally responsive evaluators tend to lean toward a more qualitative orientation, both epistemologically and methodologically. Thus, when taken up in practice, culturally responsive evaluation can be read as a form of critical qualitative inquiry.
One could easily argue that Pacific research methodologies (PRM) and Pacific relational ethics (PRE) are not new: a genealogy of approach would take one back to the ancient Pacific philosophers and practitioners of ancient indigenous knowledges—indeed back to Tagaloa-a-lagi and the 10 heavens. However, in the last two decades, there has been a renaissance of PRM and PRE taken up by Pacific researchers based in New Zealand and the wider Pacific to counter the Western hegemonic tradition of how research is carried out and why—especially research involving Pacific people, families, and communities. In the diaspora, as ethnic minorities and in their island homes, as Third World nations, Pacific peoples and communities are struggling to survive in contexts of diasporic social marginalization and a neocolonial globalizing West. So there is a need to take stock of what contemporary expressions of PRM and PRE are, how they have developed, and why they are needed. This renaissance seeks to decolonize and reindigenise research agendas and research outputs by doing research based on Pacific indigenous theories, PRM, and PRE. It demands that research carried out with Pacific peoples and communities is ethical and methodologically sound with transformational outputs. In reality, the crisis in Pacific research is the continuing adherence to traditional Western theories and research methods that undermine and overshadow the va—the sacred, spiritual, and social spaces of human relationships between researcher and researched that Pacific peoples place at the center of all human/environment/cosmos/ancestors and animate/inanimate interactions. When human relationships are secondary to research theories and methods, the research result is ineffective and meaningless and misinforms policy formation and education delivery, thereby maintaining the inequitable positioning of Pacific peoples across all demographic indices, especially in the field of Pacific education.
The Samoan indigenous reference of teu le va, which means to value, nurture, and care for (teu) the secular/sacred and social/spiritual spaces (va) of all relationships, and Teu le Va , the Ministry of Education research guideline, both evoke politicians, educational research institutions, funders, and researchers to value, nurture, and, if necessary, tidy up the va. In a troubling era of colonizing research methodologies and researcher nonaccountability, Pacific educational researchers can take inspiration from a range of philosophical theorizing based on the development of a suite of PRMs.
Allison Daniel Anders
Committed to research as an ethical and political practice, post-critical ethnographers work to center emic perspectives, local knowledges, and critiques in everyday languages in order to illuminate the exercise of power in the re/production of systemic inequities (e.g., economic, cultural, geographic, linguistic, political, racial, and social). Post-critical ethnographers underscore the importance of positionality and reflexivity in the practice of ethnography and pursue multiple, complicated understandings and complex representations, often experimental, in the writing and production of research. Informed by critical, interpretivist, and postmodern theories, post-critical ethnographers critique dominance, oppression, and inequity. In educational research, they choose schools, student, teacher, administrator experiences, and often local contexts to frame their research. Addressing both the particularities of experience and historical geopolitical contexts, post-critical ethnographers offer incisive analyses and ask their audiences to challenge systemic inequities and consider what could be otherwise in inequitable relations but is not yet.
Antonia Candela and Gabriela Naranjo
There are several different ways of understanding ethnography. On one extreme there are studies that use certain “ethnographic techniques” for practice observation, and on the other, there is the assumption that it is a complex theoretical-methodological framework that implies an ideological, political, and sociocultural approach, in order to describe the perspective of the participants. A third perspective seeks to broaden the understanding of the complex construction of scientific knowledge in the classroom. Surveys can unearth a clear tension between the etic and emic approaches, each one related to the theoretical-methodological allegiances of their researchers which can be modified somewhat through their findings. A future inquiry into the complex and heterogeneous contexts of Latin American classrooms can suggest a way to bridge macro with micro contexts of different socioeconomic and cultural and political conditions. Other growing topics that could be developed more thoroughly in the future are, for example, the multimodality of communication processes within the classroom, and studies on scientific education from an intercultural perspective, particularly considering the debt we have with the 50 million indigenous people in our region in taking into account their cultural perspectives and contributions to knowledge.
Walter S. Gershon
As its name suggests, sonic ethnography sits at the intersection of studies of sound and ethnographic methodologies. This methodological category can be applied to interpretive studies of sound, ethnographic studies that foreground sound theoretically and metaphorically, and studies that utilize sound practices similar to those found in forms of audio recording and sound art, for example. Just as using ocular metaphors or video practices does not make an ethnographic study any more truthful, the use of sonic metaphors or audio recording practices still requires the painstaking, ethical, reflexivity, time, thought, analysis, and care that are hallmarks for strong ethnographies across academic fields and disciplines. Similarly, the purpose of sonic ethnography is not to suggest that sound is any more real or important than other sensuous understandings but is instead to underscore the power and potential of the sonic for qualitative researchers within and outside of education. A move to the sonic is theoretically, methodologically, and practically significant for a variety of reasons, not least of which are (a) its ability to interrupt ocular pathways for conceptualizing and conducting qualitative research; (b) for providing a mode for more actively listening to local educational ecologies and the wide variety of things, processes, and understandings of which they are comprised; (c) ethical and more transparent means for expressing findings; and (d) a complex and deep tool for gathering, analyzing, and expressing ethnographic information. In sum, sonic ethnography opens a world of sound possibilities for educational researchers that at once deepen and provide alternate pathways for understanding everyday educational interactions and the sociocultural contexts that help render those ways of being, doing, and knowing sensible.