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Research phases of the Rethinking Indigeneity Project.

Phase 1: Media Representations of the San and the Zulu.  1986ff

The initial interest was movie-induced tourism.  The intention was to ascertain levels of media-induced tourism that arose as a result of commercially successful films and television programmes that traded in cultural myths.  The “noble-savage” myth that captured the global imagination through Jamie Uys’ The Gods must be Crazy movies, as well as the Shaka Zulu television series led to the investigation of tourism at ‘cultural villages’ such as Shaka Land.

Phase 2: Semiotics of the Encounter.  1995ff

This phase interrogated the nature of research itself. The San Bushmen were considered to be one of the most researched communities in the world. Were the San not suffering from ‘research fatigue’? How could we engage with the San Bushmen in a mutually beneficial way? Questions of the ‘self’ and ‘other’ representations– led to the interrogation of the roles of researcher and researched. How do the researchers and researched reach a common ground from which to work?

Auto-ethnographic and participatory field research methods were implemented in an attempt to foster dialogues and expose the vulnerabilities of the researchers.

The key areas of focus were cultural tourism, identity, and performance in both the Kalahari and KwaZulu Natal.

Issues of representation, cultural policy and ways of staging authenticity were discussed.

Phase 3: From Observation to Development: Method, Cultural Studies and Identity.  2003ff

This phase involved:

a) How to make our research useful to our hosts?; and

b) how to address the need for contemporary contextual information to supplement whatever other studies had been done on these communities’ conditions of existence.

Bridging the ‘theory-practice’ divide. Theories are mainly produced in the developed world, while the practice of research and development occurs in un(der)developed countries.  Funding is frequently based on proposals written by agents in the developed world, and on received conceptual models instead of observations deriving from the proposed beneficiaries.  This phase attempted to create and align theories according to what was happening in the field as opposed to narrating incidents from the field to suit the theory.

Phase 4: The development of !Xaus Lodge. 2005ff

This phase mobilised semiotics in an analysis of safari lodge marketing, strategic positioning and lodge-community partnerships in relation to issues of identity, representation, and analysis of Same-Other relationships. Action research was applied to shape business decisions to recover a state-development project. The views of the public-private and community stakeholders were taken into account when prescribing a model to guide the partnership.

http://ccms.ukzn.ac.za/projects/rethinking-indigeneity.aspx

Phase 5: Rethinking Indigeneity. 2008ff

Re-established the notion of indigeneity within the discipline of postcolonial studies in collaboration with the Leeds University Centre for Post-Colonial Studies. The strategies and models created in the first four phases were generalised so that they could be implemented in other community-lodge partnerships in the region.

Phase 6: Co-creation of Indigenous research. 2012ff

Indigenous and local communities work in collaboration with researchers to create contextually sensitive and useful research.  Strategic partnerships offer ways for indigenous peoples to develop their own interpretations of their own material culture. Indigenous communities take an active stance in shaping their own representation and identity instead of passively conforming to prescribed roles. Dialogue and collaborative efforts are indispensable to this phase.

Phase 7: Psychological Dimension of Origins of Culture. 2007ff

Study via the lens of imitation behaviour amongst pre-school children of a-literate parents in the Kalahari, in comparison with Australian Aboriginals, and literate parents of subjects in Brisbane. This phase (2007ff) adds a psychological component to the project.

Phase 8:  Participatory Development

Subject-generated media via the method of participatory development. Grassroots comics and body maps are used as tools to illustrate what the indigenous communities identify as pressing issues, instead of having their needs and wants prescribed by outside experts – with whom they might then work in a cooperative relationship.

Phase 9: Consolidating and critically examining previous research

This phase critically examines the methods developed via the RI project in relation to the broader recent emergence of critical indigenous qualitative methodologies (CIQM). Further, it compares the RI project with work that is being done on transdisciplinarity. Additional, ground breaking work is been done on youth identities among the !Xun and Khwe San groups.

It critically reflects on what has been done, what has been achieved, and what should still be done within the project, working to consolidate the vast body of data, information and writings collected into a coherent body of knowledge. The project will be discussed in relation to IKS (Indigenous Knowledge Systems) issues, and a problematisation of biomedical ethical assumptions with regard to indigeneity issues and expectations of the project’s research participants.


N.B. The time frames offered for each phase are only rough guidelines to structure the gradual development of the rethinking indigeneity track. Some phases may seem incongruent with the timeline, or they may overlap, however, this is due to the organic growth of the research track. 

For all the research outputs, click here




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