On the declonization of settler colonial forms: Carolyn J., Stirling, ‘Decolonize This – Settler Decolonization and Unsettling Colonialism: Insights from Critical Ethnographies with Indigenous and Allied Educator-Activists in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the United States of America and Canada’, Ph.D. Dissertation, State University of New York, Buffalo, 2015


Abstract: Colonization is the most powerful and destructive practice in humanity as Indigenous Peoples are brutality oppressed so that colonizers can exploit their land, labor and resources. Settler colonialism is a fundamental part of settler colonial societies; but this does not mean it cannot be opposed. Decolonization seeks to deconstruct colonialism and dismantle colonial structures. However, nonindigenous settlers who oppose colonization are caught in political and practical conundrums as they attempt to engage in decolonization.

This study explores the role of nonindigenous people in decolonization from the perspective of 70 Indigenous and Allied educator-activists in Aotearoa/New Zealand, the U.S.A. and Canada. Decolonizing, Western and Indigenous methodologies are used in this study to develop an allied methodology, which is used to conduct critical ethnographic research and collect qualitative data through individual and group interviews.

The three main themes emerging from this study are that Indigenous and nonindigenous identities are political, decolonization is a verb and Indigenous languages are the heart of decolonization. In the findings of this study Indigenous People implore nonindigenous peoples to understand the pain of colonization and not to appropriate Indigenous identities, emphasize the importance of nonindigenous participation in decolonization, and assert that learning Indigenous languages is the most effective way for nonindigenous people to participate in decolonization. In contrast, nonindigenous people are struggling to develop their identities and address colonial privilege, are seeking practical and meaningful ways to engage in decolonization, and are learning Indigenous languages for political and practical reasons.

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