Editorial: Special Issue - APS Member Groups - Australian ...

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Editorial: Special Issue - APS Member Groups - Australian ...

Editorial: Special Issue5Ignored no longer: Emerging Indigenous researchers on Indigenous psychologiesShiloh GrootUniversity of Auckland, Aotearoa/New ZealandMohi RuaBridgette Masters-AwatereUniversity of Waikato, Aotearoa/New ZealandPat DudgeonUniversity of Western Australia, AustraliaDarren GarveyCurtin University, AustraliaIndigenous peoples have been primarilyconstructed as exotic subjects of research. Wehave often been denied the status of informedresearch instigators and producers of validknowledge. In many respects Indigenouspsychologies remain marginalised in thebroader discipline of psychology. Research inthe global discipline has failed to recognise orembrace our own psychological systems,histories, socio-economic and politicalconditions and worldviews. Further,psychological research rarely employscultural concepts germane to our distinctgroups when interpreting our thoughts andbehaviours. These omissions reflect missedopportunities and the continued dominance ofAnglo-American worldviews in the globaldiscipline of psychology.Indigenous psychologies recognise thatpeople have complex and highly developedunderstandings of themselves and there ismore than one legitimate psychologicalapproach to understanding the social world,the place of different people within it. Thedevelopment of many Indigenouspsychologies has been closely associated withprocesses of decolonisation and with assistingIndigenous and minority groups to find avoice and gain access to resources for selfdetermination.Dissatisfaction with theunquestioned, derivative, and explicativenature of psychological research that isdeeply rooted in individualistic strands ofNorth American focused psychology has ledIndigenous researchers to look outside thediscipline in order to begin solving thedevastating problems within our owncommunities.The discipline of psychology is expandingworld-wide and requires the establishment ofpsychologies relevant to each culture aroundthe world. These various traditions can beconstructively connected to an evolving globaldiscipline that embraces diversity anddifference (Lawson, Graham, & Baker, 2007).Globalisation offers an invaluable opportunityfor psychology to enhance its content, methodsand scope. This must be nurtured and it shouldbe addressed by an open and inclusivediscussion on how we may implement it. Whatis required is a strategic collaborativeinteraction that seeks a responsive globalpsychology (Lawson et al., 2007).Many decisions shaping the circumstancesof Indigenous peoples are made beyond theirlife worlds, and it is up to us, as criticalIndigenous scholars working with communitygroups, to help bridge this divide throughadvocacy and joint action. As current andfuture psychologists, we need to situate ourwork within local socio‐political contexts. Thisspecial issue highlights analytic approachesinformed by Indigenous world views which arecrucial for extending our psychologicalengagements with human diversity in morecomplex and relevant ways. Here we explorethe breadth of Indigenous psychologies throughthe current work of emerging Indigenousresearchers on issues of relevance to ourcommunities.The Australian Community Psychologist Volume 24 No 1 June 2012© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd


Editorial6In this special issue, edited by Mohi,Bridgette, Shiloh, Pat and Darren, weshowcase work conducted within severalsuch Indigenous psychologies. Thiscollection of papers from emergingIndigenous scholars reflect a vibrant, healthyand supportive research environment inwhich conversations relevant to Indigenouspeoples are taking place, and where culturallydiverse perspectives and methods are valuedand accepted. Here, culture is not simply seenas an abstract set of concepts. Cultureconstitutes a field of human action, meaningmaking, and self-production. It is throughculture that all people construct themselvesand make sense of the world (Groot,Hodgetts, Nikora, & Leggat-Cook, 2011;Nikora, Rua, & Te Awekōtuku, 2007).In doing so, we consider the position ofemerging Indigenous psychologies withinAustralia, Aotearoa and the broader Pacificregion. This leads us into the first theme forthis special issue of people, their cosmologiesand orientations, where they come from andhow they understand the world and theirplace in it. From there we move into howindigenous people’s understandings ofthemselves and the world inform theorisingwithin Indigenous communities byIndigenous scholars. This in turn informs themethods we use to work with our peoplerather than on our communities. Indigenoustheoretical frameworks and research methodsallow us to develop the ways in whichcommunity issues are understood andaddressed in dialogue with thosecommunities. Theories are often developedfrom within our communities inform the useof research methods to obtain insights thatcan be applied to addressing a range of socialand economic issues.It is important to start with a paper fromCountry where this journal is located. AnnaDwyer’s contribution lays the foundations forthis special issue. Anna talks of the enduringresilience, creativity and deep understandingof the relationships between human beingsand their environment that Indigenous peoplesshare across oceans. The title of this article‘Pukarrikarta-jangka muwarr – Stories aboutcaring for Karajarri Country’ recognises thecentrality of Country to social relationships andthe spiritual and emotional wellbeing ofAboriginal and Torres Strait Islanderindividuals, families and communities (Kelly,Dudgeon, Gee & Glaskin, 2010). Theimportance of fostering Indigenous social andemotional wellbeing through an understandingof the connection to land, language, culture,spirituality, ancestry and family and communityis explored. These factors are inextricablyintertwined and afford a bastion for Indigenouspeoples to draw from in the face of adversity,buffering communities from the impact ofstressful circumstances on their social andemotional wellbeing (Kelly et al., 2010). Annaleads readers through the supportiveconsultation process between Indigenous andacademic institutions resulting in the KimberleyAboriginal Caring for Country Plan. Thiscontribution challenges a dominant colonialframework in Australia that continues toundermine the legitimate use of Indigenouspeople’s extensive and comprehensiveknowledge to manage homelands.Byron Malaela Sotiata Seiuli’s paper titled‘Uputaua: A therapeutic approach toresearching Samoan communities’ callsattention to the significant gap witnessedbetween an inclusive understanding of healthand the realities of Samoan and other Pacificcommunities. The Uputaua Approach outlinedin this paper provides a supportive guide forclinicians, health professionals and researchersalike to be reflective of their role throughout theengagement processes. Byron draws upon hisown personal, cultural and professionalexperiences to unpack the conceptualframework encompassed by the UputauaApproach. Where psychology has historicallyneglected the spiritual dimension of humanexistence the Uputaua Approach addresses thisoversight. In his paper, Byron contends that thespecific beliefs of Indigenous people must beThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 24 No 1 June 2012© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd


Editorial7considered in order to bridge gaps betweenpsychological concepts developed in onecultural context and the application of theseideas to addressing the needs of Indigenouspeople in other contexts (Sue & Sue, 2008).Beyond addressing the body, mind and socialdimensions is the need to locate these withintheir familial, ancestral, environmental anddivine connections.Ingrid Waldron makes an invaluablecontribution to the comprehensive yethistorically muted body of research onAfrican-centered psychology. This papertitled ‘Out from the margins: CentringAfrican-centred knowledge in psychologicaldiscourse’ assertively critiques theapplicability of Anglo-American psychologyto the African peoples of the diasporaexperience with its assumptions of inferiority.Ingrid contends that marginality can be morethan a place of exclusion. It can alsoconstitute a space for resistance. Her paperprovides an overview of the vast healingapproaches utilised by African peoples of theDiaspora that are informed by Indigenous andvarious Euro-Western approaches. Within anAfrican conceptual framework it isrecognised that spirituality is an intimateaspect of the human condition and alegitimate aspect of mental health work (Sue& Sue, 2008). Such recognition is extendedthrough Ingrid’s discussion of the limitationsof Cartesian-orientated Anglo-Americanpsychology which is challenged byIndigenous people’s conceptualisation of theinterconnected self.Andre McLachlan, Ruth Hungerford,Ria Schroder and Simon Adamson’scontribution titled ‘Practitioners experiencesof collaboration, working with and for ruralMāori’ showcases how qualitative researchstrategies can be indigenised and adapted tobetter reflect Māori cultural concepts andvalues. Andre and colleagues challengeassumptions that prescribe Kaupapa MāoriResearch (KMR) as a descriptor for researchwith Māori communities. They present KMRas comprising the development of a richphilosophical framework and theory thatoutlines a set of methodological principles,processes and intervention strategies. From thisperspective, KMR does not preclude the use ofquantitative methodologies. KMR can be usedto shape and inform different research methodswith emancipator relevance for Indigenouspeoples. Through an example showcasing theuse of KMR across health and social services ina rural setting to address the needs of Māoriwith substance use issues, Andre and colleagueshighlight the need to recognise the diverse livedrealities of Māori today. These authors arguethat it is crucial to understand that Māoripractitioners and those Māori accessing servicesmay have different understandings andexperience of the use of tikanga (practiceinformed by Māori values).Our fifth paper, by Arama Rata, JessicaHutchings and James Liu titled ‘The WakaHourua Research Framework: A dynamicapproach to research with urban Māoricommunities’, employs a methodologicalframework at the interface between Indigenousknowledge and Western science. Utilising sucha research approach allows for the generation ofnew and distinct insights that enriches bothknowledge bases. Ancient Māori values utilisedin the framework provide the bases andprocesses of scientific inquiry. The WakaHourua (double-hulled sailing vessel) researchframework was developed as part of acommunity-driven intervention at a low-decileState secondary school to reflect the diverserealities of Māori community members. Aramaand colleagues draw comparisons acrossindigenous communities encompassed by aholistic approach to research where analysescomprise social relationships and connectionsbetween people, the physical environment andhistorical events. While it is difficult to turnresearch into action within the limits of a PhD,Arama successfully contributes to broaderagendas of change. This is evidenced by keystakeholders expressing satisfaction with theoutcomes of intervention activities central toThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 24 No 1 June 2012© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd


Editorial8this project.Arlene Laliberté’s paper titled‘Participatory action research in Aboriginalcontexts: ‘Doing with’ to promote mentalhealth’ details her experiences and reflectionsas a Canadian First Nation communitypsychology researcher working alongsideAboriginal Australian peoples. This paperhighlights the positive contributions theCollaborative Research on Empowermentand Wellbeing team that Arlene has beeninvolved with in supporting positive mentalhealth outcomes within Indigenouscommunities. Employing a participatoryaction research approach, Arlenedemonstrates the strength of supportiverelationship building when working withIndigenous communities. Participatingcommunities included two remotecommunities, a rural community easilyaccessed and close to a large town and amixed Aboriginal and non-Aboriginalcommunity close to a large urban centre.Arlene reflects on the tensions and strengthsof integrating "insiders, "outsiders" andmultiple perspectives to obtain acomprehensive and integrated understandingof the issues that face Indigenouscommunities and how we might respond inconstructive ways.Pita King, Amanda Young-Hauser,Wendy Li, Mohi Rua and Linda WaimarieNikora’s contribution titled ‘Exploring thenature of intimate relationships: A Māoriperspective’ looks at the imperfect beauty ofintimate relationships from a Māoriperspective. The complex interplay betweenidentity change, violence perpetuated by menand women, communication and culture isexplored. The processes of colonisation haveundermined the role of women in Māorisociety and are seen to be a majorcontributing factor to the high rates ofintimate partner violence within the Māoripopulation. The sadness and lonelinessplayed out in relationships as they sometimesdissipate, as well as the cultural valuesenacted in each relationship, providing aframework to connect, negotiate and relate toone another is considered. Pita and colleaguesseek to enhance current understandings of thenature of intimate relationships as apreventative approach to promote more loving,compassionate and violence free intimaterelationships.Our eighth paper by Glenis Mark andKerry Chamberlain, titled ‘Māori healers’perspectives on cooperation with biomedicine’,outlines some of the tensions occurring betweenMāori health practitioners and GeneralPractitioners, whilst providing practicalsolutions to emerging tensions. Glenis exploresthe contemporary role of Rongoā Māori as partof a traditional system of healing that hasdeveloped out of the cultural traditions ofMāori. Where tohunga (traditional Māori priest)once held a prestigious position in Māorisociety, colonial policies aimed at suppressingthe practices of such tohunga have seen the roleof rongoā relegated to a secondary andalternative form of health treatment in Māorisociety today. The authors contend thatIndigenous healing practices and belief systemsentail experiential and lived realities. The paperdemonstrates the importance of holistic careinvolving spirituality for Māori healers duringrongoā healing could be shared with doctors.Conversely, healers may benefit from becominginformed of basic biomedical practices such asrecognising the need for patients to be referredfor biomedical treatment.Stanley Kamutingondo, Darrin Hodgetts,Shiloh Groot and Linda Waimarie Nikora’spaper, titled ‘Zimbabwean medication use inNew Zealand: The role of indigenous andallopathic substances’, considers what becomesof indigenous forms of knowledge regardingmedications and health care when groups movefrom their homelands to another country; in thiscase from Zimbabwe to New Zealand. With thecolonisation of Zimbabwe and the creation of aWesternised professional class in urban centres,there has been a shift away from vanaChiremba(traditional healers) towards WesternThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 24 No 1 June 2012© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd


Editorial9medications and associated practices.Zimbabweans come from a background ofinterdependence where sharing, unity, respectand love are important components to theireveryday lives. The authors explore howthese families respond to illnesses withindomestic spaces in a new country in thecontext of both their traditional and Westernmedical approaches to support each other andensure the appropriate sourcing and use ofmedicinal substances. These authors reflecton how striking divisions between Indigenousand Western traditions is problematic in that,once taken into the home, allopathicsubstances are transformed socially intocultural objects through their use inhousehold healthcare practices.In our final paper titled ‘Māori childrenand death: Views from parents’, JuanitaJacob, Linda Nikora and Jane Ritchieconsider (through the eyes of their parents)children's participation in tangi (Māori deathrituals) as an important forum for theexpression of grief and providing continuityand support with familial networks. Whiledeath may come to us all, how childrenunderstand and respond to death varies acrosscultures. Tangi as an institution has largelywithstood the devastations of colonisationand remains deeply rooted within Māoricommunities. The process of conveyingknowledge of death, dying, mourning andculturally defined responses from parent tochild occurs within the whanau (family)rather than through media or counselling. Theincreasing challenges of urbanisation andassociated kinship fragmentation threaten thecontinuation of this practice and the authorsemphasise the need to ensure these practicescontinue to persist between parents and theirchildren.Each paper located within the pages ofthis special issue shares multiplecommonalities and echoes Martín-Baró’sdefinition of liberation psychology as “aparadigm in which theories don’t define theproblems of the situation; rather, theproblems demand or select their owntheorization” (Martin-Baro, 1994, p. 314).Combined, these papers demonstrate that whilestructural intrusions have clearly posedchallenges to Indigenous wellness, we are notpassive in the face of socio-political upheavals.We are resilient and we are adaptive. Thisspecial issue problematises racist discoursesregarding Indigenous peoples that associatedark skin with a lack of motivation, lowachievement, poor self-discipline and violence(Gowan, 2002; Groot et al., 2011; Kingfisher,2007). The analyses offered by the 10 paperscomprising this collection, rupture negativestereotypes that focus on deficits, and demandsthat the broader discipline shifts over toincorporate Indigenous strengths, capacities andknowledges into our responses. If articulation isthe catalyst for change, then to be heard, to beread, connects us. After all, “without language,there are no true meanings” (Dwyer, this issue).ReferencesGowan, T. (2002). The nexus: Homelessnessand incarceration in two American cities.Ethnography, 3, 500-534.Groot, S., Hodgetts, D., Nikora, L. W., &Leggat-Cook, C. (2011). A Maori homelesswoman. Ethnography, 12, 375-397.Kelly, K., Dudgeon, P., Gee, G., & Glaskin, B.(2010). Living on the edge: Social andemotional wellbeing and risk andprotective factors for serious psychologicaldistress among Aboriginal and TorresStrait Islander People [Discussion PaperNo. 10]. Darwin, Australia: CooperativeResearch Centre for Aboriginal Health.Kingfisher, C. (2007). Discursive constructionsof homelessness in a small city in theCanadian prairies. American Ethnologist,34, 91-107.Lawson, R. B., Graham, J. E., & Baker, K. M.(2007). A history of psychology. London:Pearson.Martín-Baró, I. (1994). Writings for a liberationpsychology. Cambridge, MA: HarvardUniversity.Nikora, L. W., Rua, M., & Te Awekotuku, N.The Australian Community Psychologist Volume 24 No 1 June 2012© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd


Editorial10(2007). Renewal and resistance: Moko incontemporary New Zealand. Journal ofCommunity and Applied SocialPsychology 17, 447-489.Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2008). Counsellingthe culturally diverse: Theory andpractice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &Sons.Address correspondence toMohi Ruamrua@waikato.ac.nzShiloh Groots.groot@auckland.ac.nzThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 24 No 1 June 2012© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd

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