Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Yarning/Aboriginal Storytelling: Towards an Understanding of an Indigenous Perspective and Its Implications for Research Practice

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Yarning/Aboriginal Storytelling: Towards an Understanding of an Indigenous Perspective and Its Implications for Research Practice

Article excerpt

There is increasing recognition of Indigenous perspectives from various parts of the world in relation to storytelling, research and its effects on practice. The recent emergence of storytell- ing or yarning as a research method in Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island studies and other Indigenous peoples of the world is gain- ing momentum in the education and social sci- ences (Bessarab & Ng'andu, 2010; Kovach, 2009; Rigney, 2001; Smith, 2005; Yunkaporta, 2009). Nursing is also experiencing an expansion of nursing research practice which carries significant potential towards redressing the gaps in tradi- tional Western paradigms of nursing research in its endeavour to provide culturally competent nurs- ing care across the discipline and the profession to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island and other Indigenous client groups (Fredericks, 2006; Hayes, Campbell, Buckby, Geia, & Egan, 2010; Kruske, Kildea, & Barclay, 2006; Saunders, West, & Usher, 2010; Tanner, Agius, & Darbyshire, 2005).

As researchers, we not only develop new knowl- edge but also build our knowledge on the exist- ing works of others by expanding and enriching established research and research methodologies, giving us a deeper understanding of the human lived experience and the world around us. The colonisation of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and the male biomedical dom- inant voice resulted in the silencing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island voices and their stories in favour of the dominant world view. For the most part of my lived experience, and that of many other Indigenous people affected by colonisation, the word and workings of research are heavily weighted with negative Eurocentric implications. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people have read of, and still read about, the many research studies that have been conducted on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people with little or no reciprocity (Dodson, 1994; Johnson, 1991). These past exclusionary research practices have silenced many people and rendered their stories invisible.

Furthermore, these Eurocentric biomedical research practices have left a legacy of mistrust within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island commu- nities. Research in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities is a 'dirty word' and is under- stood as something done to them and not with them, without reciprocity. Whereas, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island approaches to research has the potential towards making significant change in the move towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island self-determination in research development and delivery of services. Hence, the past decade has wit- nessed a turning of the research tide in Eurocentric research paradigms, and a vital transformative emer- gence from the Indigenous oral methods of story- telling and knowledge creation, into Indigenous scholarly story writing and knowledge building that is crucial to privileging Indigenous voices in aca- demia (Rigney, 2001; Smith, 2005).

It has to be said that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island peoples have had to accept and submit to the past 200 years of Eurocentric research paradigms. Now this Eurocentric comfort zone is undergoing a shaking and a ruffling of its academic feathers. In Australia at least, the days of white academics preen- ing their feathers and building nests whilst basking in accolades from the gains of research conducted on Indigenous peoples are over. Western para- digms now have to shift to fit in with Indigenous world views and paradigms. Whereas in the past Indigenous peoples had to fit with Western research approaches, now we have Indigenous methodolo- gies developed by Indigenous people for use with Indigenous people (Kovach, 2009; Smith, 2005).

In some respects within research, Indigenous people are now becoming the teachers and Western researchers are becoming the learners - thereby bal- ancing the scales with our new found tensions and transformations. …

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