Reflections about Research

Carol A. Hand

Today, the world is in turmoil – violence, death, war, hunger, refugees, and floods. Instead of focusing on things I cannot change, I ponder the responsibilities I may be able to fulfill. I wonder if any of this will make the world a kinder place. Yet these are the thoughts that came to me this morning.

Facing scrutiny, rejection and acceptance
Looking back, I wonder which was more difficult to reconcile
What made me think I had the right to enter another’s world
To study them with a colonizer’s tools
Participant observation, fieldnotes, and a tape-recorder
To freeze their culture with descriptions and interpretations
Not necessarily their own

I can understand the rejection
What motivated others to acquiesce to my request?
The responsibility of acceptance still weighs heavy on my heart
Do I share what I learned or keep it quiet?
Do I analyze or simply report other’s words?
Will sharing make a difference in their lives or mine?
Can knowledge, objectivity and critical analysis lead to compassion?

Will any of this make a difference – urging others to understand and be kinder
To become more inclusive and accepting of difference, more respectful of all life?

aadi and crocus

Photo: My Grandson’s Second Spring

Today, the words of Paulo Freire bring me comfort.

The radical, committed to human liberation, does not become the prisoner of a “circle of certainty” within which reality is also imprisoned. On the contrary, the more radical the person is, the more fully he or she enters into reality so that, knowing it better, he or she can transform it. This individual is not afraid to meet the people or to enter into dialogue with them. This person does not consider himself or herself the proprietor of history or of all people, or the liberator of the oppressed; but he or she does commit himself or herself, within history, to fight at their side. (Freire, 2000, p. 39)

Work Cited:

Paulo Freire (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed (30th Anniversary Edition). New York, NY: Continuum.

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

31 thoughts on “Reflections about Research

  1. Every few months or so, I question whether what I am doing with my blog is of any value to others at all. I go through periods of time where I consciously try to slow down, to retreat, to get away from it, because it takes a toll. And then the sensation, the question, returns, “Why are you deserting people?”

    Not to sound like I’m asking for a pity party, but because of my age, health and limited income, I have very few ways, beyond what I do here, to serve anyone else but my self. So, I continue on. Maybe it’s not for me to know if what I am doing is of any value to those being trampled down in this world, maybe it is simply for me to do, because I care?

    Thank you for this post and quote, Carol. It helps!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Thank you, Carol! I appreciate this more than you know.

        And the same is true of you as well!

        What you have done and are still doing, even with colonialist tools (which is all we have), is and will continue to be of great importance to the Ojibwe people and the rest of us as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Carol, this is a lovely and thoughtful post. Thank you for putting beautiful words to what many of us feel in some way. I feel that asking questions is the right thing in times like these; rather than making judgmental statements. Your questions make so much sense, and contribute to the essential healing of our world when we listen to the answers from our hearts.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful and thoughtful post. I struggle with this too. You have clearly thought long and hard about the problem. Having lived in Asia for many years, I constantly had to negotiate between my own need to feel good about myself, and what is actually the right way to deal with charity and enquiry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your crucial, honest thoughts about the challenges of negotiating other cultures in conscious, respectful ways. Too few even think about these issues, choosing instead to merely impose narrow individualistic, competitive colonial institutions that destroy the sense of community and inter-dependence of other cultures with distressing consequences.


      1. I’m in the process of writing a post that occurred to me while swimming today (the best mental exercise!). I’m writing about being white expats/retirees in non-white countries. I don’t see it discussed anywhere on expat and retirement sites. Maybe I can make a contribution to the beginning of a conversation.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Carol! Did your Grandson pick those crocuses or were you able to stop him in time? It is a lovely photo. I wish I could help you with your questions but the answers escape me as well. Take care. Bob

    Liked by 1 person

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