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Making ‚ "collaboration" collaborative: An examination of perspectives that frame field research

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Title: Making ‚ "collaboration" collaborative: An examination of perspectives that frame field research
Authors: Leonard, Wesley
Haynes, Erin
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: Collaboration is increasingly seen as desirable in linguistic field research, but scholarship in the fields of Linguistics and Anthropology is only beginning to explore what it truly entails (see, for example, Evers & Toelken, 2001). Collaboration, within the western academic sociopolitical culture, has become a “best practice” but in many aspects maintains remnants of earlier colonial practices in that the definition of “collaboration” itself is usually framed by professional researchers. Institutional Review Board paperwork at the authors’ institution, for example, incorporates the term “collaborators” but with reference only to members of other research institutions; people who usually fall within the scope of “community member” are deemed “human subjects”. Furthermore, as Rice (2006) points out, “Collaborative working arrangements are not truly collaborative if the linguist still controls the content and framework of the research, and the form in which it appears” (pp. 149-150). Based on interviews and ongoing discussion with members of two Native American language programs, we present a comparative analysis of “collaboration”. Our findings reveal underlying differences in what collaboration can or should entail. For example, both communities emphasize relationships that extend beyond the immediate scope of the research and its participants. In the Warm Springs (Oregon) community, successful researchers must be empowered by appropriate members of the community itself. In the Miami (Oklahoma) community, language and culture research protocols have developed such that an ideal research model not only includes regular, explicit mutual examination of the topic, but also involvement and consideration of the needs of the larger Miami community. Such a diversity of views accounts for areas in which conflicts arise in the implementation of research, which in some cases leads to failure to accomplish mutual goals. We present a case study showing how different notions of collaboration can help or hinder one of the fundamental processes common to most linguistic field research – identifying speakers. We incorporate collaborative consultation (Cameron et al., 1993; Authors, 2007), which refers to any kind of open interview in which the initial investigator’s goals are explicit and continually reframed and revised by all research participants. We show how political, cultural, social, and relational dimensions of speakerhood can be addressed through this method. Beyond issues of funding, time, and general accessibility, collaboration may be one of the most important aspects of successful field research. However, the notion of collaboration itself warrants critical examination, with appropriate adjustments in research methods.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/5077
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)



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