The Indian and the researcher: tales from the field

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Brayboy, Bryan McKinley. “The Indian and the researcher: tales from the field.” International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 13.4 (July/August 2000): 415 (12 pages).


Brayboy, Lumbee, offers in this article what van Maanen (Tales of the field, 1988) calls a “field work confessional.” He describes the tensions and conflict he felt as an Indigenous researcher working with Indigenous subjects. The material he presents is excerpted from the research journal he kept as he completed an ethnographic study of seven Native American students attending two Ivy League universities. Brayboy's forthright and insightful comments are grounded in conscience as well as in current theory and research. The following quotation effectively summarizes the issues Brayboy explores in this article: “My own experiences as an Indigenous person, who is also an 'academic,' in this area are complicated. I have used racial categories as a way of identifying people and ascribing group membership; I have also been labeled and classified by others based on physical characteristics. As an academic, I have fought against unfairly categorizing individuals and not fully examining the complexities of labeling and classifying. I have also participated in the very behaviors--as an Indigenous person--that I have argued against as an academic. This experience has left me wondering how we, as researchers, will be able to make sense of labeling and classifying that plays a definitive role in the identity politics of the groups that we study.”

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