Decolonising Methodologies, 20 Years On – The Sociological Review Annual Lecture by Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith

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On 16th October 2019, The Sociological Review were pleased to host our fifth annual lecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Previous annual lectures, from Imogen Tyler, Satnam Virdee, Éric Fassin and Rivke Jaffe, have aimed to sociologically intervene in major economic and political changes in the world. In so doing, the annual lecture series enacts The Sociological Review’s manifesto commitment to critically and creatively engage with global struggles and transformations.

In 2019, the editorial board invited Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Professor in the Department of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato. The address came twenty years after the first publication of her ground-breaking book Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. In her opening remarks, editor in chief Micheala Benson noted that the book remains ‘fresh and relevant’ and that Smith’s work critiquing the hegemony as its reproduced through theory, knowledge and research is as important as it ever was.

Smith spoke to the title ‘Decolonising Methodologies, 20 Years On’, reflecting on how the book’s themes resonate in the contemporary academy, as well as what would be included in the book were it to have been written today. Smith opened with a poem, ‘Research Ethics and Indigenous Peoples 101’, which set the scene for a creative and urgent lecture on indigenous knowledges, and decolonisation struggles in all their intersecting forms. The lecture can be watched here.

Smith’s lecture was followed by a response from Dr Yasmin Gunaratnam (Goldsmiths, London). Gunaratnam is the author of two books, ‘Researching Race and Ethnicity: methods, knowledge and power’ (Sage, 2003) and ‘Death and the Migrant’ (Bloomsbury Academic, 2013) and a co-author of ‘Go Home? The Politics of Immigration Controversies’ (Manchester University Press, 2017). Like Smith, Gunaratham is also a poet, using creative methods to express the urgent politics in her work. Her response will soon be published on The Sociological Review’s blog.

The Sociological Review would like to thank both speakers and an audience ready to discuss and debate the vital issues raised in Smith’s talk. The audience discussion ranged from student activist groups who are fighting colonial legacies in their institutions to the work required of museums and curators to decolonise their collections and displays.

This month, The Sociological Review’s digital platform is acting as a space to carry on this discussion and to highlight those, both inside and outside the academy, who takes Smith’s work as inspiration. We are changing the way we work with digital content and our Social Media channels, and have launched a themed approach with opens calls for submissions each month. February 2020 is the first month where we will be working this way, and across our blog and Social Media we will be sharing reflections on Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s Annual Lecture. For future months’ themes and calls for submissions, please see here. We welcome submissions of all kinds, from blog posts, to fiction, to photos and moving-image, and will support you to realise your ideas. We hope you enjoy this month’s responses to the Annual Lecture, and hope to hear from you for future themes.

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