WEEK 9 – WHITE LOGIC IN RESEARCH

What do you think of Bonilla-Silva and Zuberi’s use of the term “white logic”?  Do you think it is possible to have a discussion about decolonization without a discussion of race or the social constructs of race?

Until I participated in this course, I had never questioned the concept and structure of research and especially had not questioned any underlying bias with regard to western and euro thought processes.  While I knew history was created with many untruths to perpetuate the imperialist attitudes and ideologies, I saw scientific research as fundamentally neutral.  Well I now know that I was wrong and naïve.  That is not to say that I believe every research conducted on indigenous populations lack validity but emphasis should be on interpretation with a critical lens that focus on any suggestion of imperialist thought or connotation.  I more fully understand the concept of white logic and white methods thanks to this article but would be hard pressed to explain it in everyday conversation.  After careful consideration, I believe that would have something to do with my difficulty in verbalizing how knowledge is perceived from an indigenous view because for me, some of these ideas are innate and natural and cannot be explained in a western context (if that makes any sense).

I certainly do not believe that a discussion about decolonization can be had without discussion of race or social constructs of race because the whole concept of decolonization would not exist but for the social injustices, negative labels and stereotypes that have been attributed to particular groups of people as a result of imperialism and colonization.  Colonization was all about race and conceived superiority of the dominant group for political, economic and social gain.

Why do you think Bonilla-Silva and Zuberi received such pushback from their colleagues when talking about white logic/methods?

There could be a number of reasons for the pushback. I would first assume that it has to do with suggesting racism is involved, especially as that theory is coming from indigenous individuals and may initially feel accusatory.  It raises ethical questions on a professional level and moral values on an individual level.  Any decent person does not want to be called a racist and even with personal reflection, that possibility is more comfortably ignored.  Explaining the whole concept of white logic and methods could be initially delivered in a more exploratory manner without first highlighting the underlying injustice and bias of the traditional western logic behind research of a particular culture.  The pushback could also be as a result of the whole notion that research as it currently stands, should be chucked and reinvented; entering such an unknown and complex realm can be a frightening thought when considering a system that has already undergone some evolution and become widely and comfortably accepted. Simply having to admit that research has justified racial inequalities and stratification may be too much for most.  Finally, there may be the perception that this research has the right to be conducted based upon the academic credentials and benefits to humanity (whether that accurately be the case, or not).

Do you think Denzin and Lincoln have a different tone in their chapter since they are non-native researchers? How do you think their being non-native can be helpful or not helpful in advancing indigenous research?  Do you think non-natives can and should participate in the discussion?

I thought Denzin and Lincoln delivered their message in a softer tone. This question makes me look back at the other authors and in retrospect, I think indigenous scholars come across more forcefully.  I do not state this opinion in a negative sense; to me it simply reveals the depth of the contrast between indigenous ways of thought and western/euro practices of knowledge.  We also must remember that native scholars are coming from a personal place of experiences and marginalization.  Certainly, coming from a non-native gives the impression of subjectivity and unbiased deliberation.  We know that attitudes of superiority continue to exist even in the scientific and academic realms therefore reproach or query might be better consumed coming from a colleague of their own, not from the “other”.  If we are discussing the methods used in indigenous research, then I think the participation of non-natives in that particular endeavor would be helpful.  Until the concept of a superior group can be dispelled, this will always be the case, in my opinion.  On the other hand, I have bias myself and believe that research on an indigenous population should be conducted by an indigenous observer rather than a non-native.  So perhaps it should be the indigenous person that advances methods of indigenous research, as well.  I have a long way to go in understanding the decolonization theory and processes and this question certainly is one that I have to reconsider at a later date.

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4 thoughts on “WEEK 9 – WHITE LOGIC IN RESEARCH

  1. I like your insight here! I agree with your assessment of the Bonilla-Silva article and why it came across more forcefully. I think your assessment at the end is good as well, but add that perhaps there can be collaboration. Why does it have to be either or? We can learn a lot from each other. Really liked this and wondered if I could re-post?

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  2. As the week’s progressed I did find myself swaying on my initial opinions.
    Collaboration would be ideal if we can learn the concept behind decolonization in the western forum.
    It takes two to tango.

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