Notes on:Rizvi, S. (2022) Racially-just epistemologies and methodologies that disrupt whiteness, International Journal of Research & Method in Education. 45:3, 225-231, DOI:

[This is the controversial special edition]

Dave Harris

It begins with a 'message of hope of the possibilities of facilitating positive change in the educational research landscape'. We have to 'disrupt current methods and epistemologies that sustain racism' by embracing alternative ways of knowing. We start with the principle of incompleteness of all knowledges. We should acknowledge challenging oppressive knowledge systems, especially in the event of symbolic and physical violence on a global scale. Educational researchers should work together reimagine and expand their repertoires. There already are multiple pathways, epistemologies, theories and methodologies, and existing research practices can offer a 'hidden curriculum' that impose 'problematic racial stereotypes, or worse… Racism'. That includes 'attempts to ban or question the role of critical race theory' in the USA, and we find, 'in a similar vein, the Sewell Report, which 'rewrites the official narrative on state of racism [sic] within the UK and denies any form of institutional racism' (225). Somebody called Tikly argues that this shows how objectivity can be used as a tool to silence knowledges produced by people who are often black or indigenous: the Sewell Report claims to be evidence-based and data led and yet it systematically excludes research and academics that identify institutional racism as significant. Similar attacks can be found in other nation states using 'different apparatuses for control [references here include Mignolo -- see separate file], evidence for 'epistemicide' — 'the silencing of dissent and knowledges by way of so-called "patriotic laws" (226), requiring epistemic disobedience and delinking, a different place outside of Western thought.

This is similar to the paradigmatic revolution that scholars of colour have been asking for for four decades, showing they have had little institutional support, as when cultural deficit frameworks have explained why communities of colour have had poor educational experiences. Contributors to this special issue want to overturn this 'apartheid of knowledge', 'apply an asset based lens', and show fresh and innovative research strategies, epistemologies and methods, arising from a commitment to 'racially just educational research.

It is still not understood how research methods can involve racism as an epistemic issue, how the current traditions and contexts 'only validate Western knowledge systems' which do not recognise and so undermine epistemologies and methodologies 'developed by Black American, pan- African, Indigenous, Asian, Latina/Chicano and Global Majority scholars'. There is also research by women of colour carving out theoretical and methodological spaces of their own, challenging gatekeepers who have guided formal educational research and legitimate research in HE. They want to develop racially just epistemologies and methodologies grounded in ethically responsible and social justice agendas. They want to develop culturally sensitive research based on experiential knowledge. Much of this is included as 'critical qualitative enquiry', although, much of this has been developed within white social history and thus, as Scheurich and Young argue are open to criticism from racial bias: they need to develop new racially just epistemologies from non-Eurocentric and nonwhite social contexts.

The special issue has two central beliefs: (1) whiteness in education research is sustained by the epistemological ignorance of race, and colonisation contributes to epistemicide, the destruction of subaltern knowledge; (2) communities of colour are creators of knowledge and should be central in developing knowledge that helps them to talk back to the Western construction of their lived experience.

The journal received fantastic contributions, enough to publish two special issues. Part one is seven papers providing food for thoughts and 'nourishment for the soul' (227) they share different and sometimes new epistemological theoretical and methodological works and help us rethink how existing methods can be 'more racially just'. (227). The issue is deeply reflexive.

[Then a quick summary]

Carter and Jocson [I have notes on a draft] have a theoretical framework that helps create the performative nature of racial Justice University statements and go on to show how epistemic erasure extends to research methods courses and graduate programs and research practices, advocating breaking away to becoming unattainable and forging new paths, using new methodologies of black creativity using da Silva  to disrupt structural and strategic racism, which parallels epistemic disobedience like Mignolo.

The second paper I have not read — it looks like doing community neighbourhood research and the ethical problems of making the community invisible when they wanted to be named, while fitting accessible texts with classic research outputs, and squaring Latina feminist methodology with classic academic research.

The third paper explores something called 'critical race feminist praxis' and builds on something called Chicana/Latina cultural intuition, looking at more personal accounts of educational histories and representations of communities of colour within children's literature and libraries, to develop a counter narrative of communities of culture and enabling participants to contribute in their own way. They argue that neutrality and objectivity marginalise such communities by excluding them from research processes.

The fourth paper is the one on trans-hip-hop pedagogy. The editor claims it utilises a new framework and talks up CSS and hip-hop pedagogy and transnegritude — she particularly likes the extracts which 'present YEM members views in their own creative trans-hip-hop form: "you see we are rappers in one way or another. You see, so this our generation"' (228). This shows delinking and how black and brown participants 'should be portrayed as agentic'.

The next paper shows how avoiding colour in data collection is effectively whiteness and why we need a more intentional attention to racial oppression. This is based on conducting interviews with mentors engaging in peer mentoring and shows how researchers need to be better trained to address incidences of racism and micro aggression during data collection. They were forced to listen to '"minimisation of racism and racially coded stereotypes during discussions of race -related issues"' and this took a toll as participants simply moved on during interviews. Practical strategies are needed to overcome such 'colour evasive narratives'

The sixth paper talks about the importance of visual means in conveying race and racism while methods are not visual. Apparently, during the murder of George Floyd, 'the world saw truth through undeniable and powerful visuals… A truth that black communities in the USA knew all along' (229). Visual elicitation tools should be used to disrupt whiteness in things like focus groups rather than permitting '"methodological dissidents" and "methodological niceness"'. They have used such methods to produce a meaningful dialogue on racism, where groups of coloured and white people were asked to watch a viral video of a hate incident. He does warn of risks that members of a community might be triggered and further traumatised. {I would also like to see how white viewers reacted -- with rationalisations or denials perhaps, counter-claims, accusations of bias?]

The last paper looks at particular Mapuche  women in Chile and the erasure and epistemicide they have suffered. The researchers use indigenous philosophy and ways of knowing, referring to fighting for community rights and ethical equilibria and interdependence. Physical locations are also important, and research also involves cooking food together and discussing schooling experiences. Gatherings helped healing as well as making memories. There is also a risk of revealing intergenerational trauma. The researchers say their research offers no generalisability.

So all the papers talk of the importance of 'recognising and centring histories of oppression' and context, that reveal centuries of 'epistemicide and necropolitics' and a deficit based understanding especially within educational research. The focus was on transforming research practice and providing alternatives as well as developing critical and innovative race-based theories, and looking at how racially just epistemologies and methodologies affect the relationship between researchers and participants. We were to be informed and encouraged to think about educational research. We are going to explore these concerns further in part two.

Overall this was a liberatory project standing on the shoulders of research giants such as Linda T. Smith Norman Denzin and Lincoln and various others. We hope to encourage the discipline to evolve and adapt. Many people are to be thanked especially wonderful academics who reviewed.