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  • Paola Napolitano

Data Collection and Knowledge Sharing – the Ethics of Knowing and Sharing




Image free of copyright restrictions, downloaded from Pinback button reading Teach the Children the Truth | Smithsonian Institution (si.edu)


By reading Decolonizing Methodologies I have reflected on the concept of research from different angles. Ethics is the dominant theme in the book and plenty of insights are offered in regard to the application of research methodologies.

Before understanding what academic writing implies, I much relied on presenting a topic with a one-way approach which would support my ideas. During the past two years, we have been confronted with an abundant flows of fake news, mis-information and conspiracy theories which seem to have something in common, a mono-directional perspective, pushing themselves forward in order to prevail over other streams.


But what’s the effect of this modality of information sharing? The impactful resonance of imposing one view only is that it may significantly influence, or better diminish, the reasoning of those who do not engage into a thorough analysis and comparison between facts, taking for granted written words and relying on limited resources. Basically, it’s about triggering analysis skills or numb them.


How do I filter the data I collect? How do I select data when collecting it? I had never thought thoroughly about the importance of being neutral in collecting data, and how difficult it can be as a researcher. How can we discern our background from the way how we act, or when we research? Are we biased at priori in collecting data? If so, how can we neutralize the effect of our choices on people we research on?


Collected data can write an although biased truth, like history books. For example, looking at history, women were not eligible for decision-making roles within societal structures, therefore this has implied we have received a partial knowledge, an exclusive truth.


The word truth is often associated with knowledge and justice, when it actually has to do with power, accessibility, authorship. Knowing the truth sets the foundation of our identity, however our identity is shaped through the construction of the most powerful presence dictating the truth.


Accessing vast amounts of literature through my University makes me feel a privileged learner, likely to be one of the few receiving education in a Western World, where the concept of truth has been built over layers of knowledge hegemony and discriminating practices.


In this sense, I have the hard task of de-colonizing, de-constructing and re-building this knowledge basing my new learning on several other sources, new skills of analysis, data comparison, synthesis, neutral knowledge sharing. This requires an abundant seeking spirit!


Considering the amount of appropriated practices such as massage, rituals, herbs, traditions, clothes, which originally belonged to various indigenous people, but been reinvented and institutionalized by the imperialist mentality owners, it can be observed research methodologies and dissemination of knowledge can have a much larger catastrophic effect. These methodologies reflect a total absence of respect towards the occupied inhabitants of other lands.

Thinking of the now popular vegan diet which may propose fruits and vegetables that are planted in lands where indigenous rights are sacrificed to the altar of a globalized culture, neglecting the ethical sponsorship of the original meat-free way of living.


Our way of researching is embedded in a defined socio-cultural context that enact as a bias towards the subject of the research. This can be said of research carried out by large scale organizations or Governments that produce data to which masses would refer to as trusted sources and build informed knowledge upon.


As a person who has always refused to dig into politics, I must start to understand more about expressing my political statement by writing, dancing, acting in society, etc. Do these action imply a political statement anyway? What does political mean? How does it relate to knowing, information sharing?


One quote I take away from reading Decolonizing Methodologies is ‘‘Thus the work of the liminal perspective is to reveal the ways that dominant perspectives distort the realities of the other in an effort to maintain power relations that continue to disadvantage those who are locked out of the mainstream.’’ (Gloria Ladson-Billings, cited, p. 204)

Tuhiwai Smith, Linda, Decolonizing Methodologies (2016) Available online Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples - Linda Tuhiwai Smith - Google Books [Accessed June 2021]





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