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Reframing research in Indigenous countries: A methodological framework for research with/within Indigenous nations

Aedan Alderson (Department of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada)

Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management

ISSN: 1746-5648

Article publication date: 16 August 2019

Issue publication date: 4 March 2020



The purpose of this paper is to address some of the implications for methodology and ethics that arise when researchers in Indigenous territories locate their research projects as taking place within Indigenous countries. Centering the argument that ethical research with Indigenous communities must be rooted in upholding the primacy of Indigenous sovereignty, numerous considerations to improve qualitative research practices in Indigenous countries are discussed.


The author starts by introducing his relationship to Indigenous research as a mixed-Indigenous researcher. Moving onto discussing preliminary research considerations for working in Indigenous territories, the author argues that qualitative researchers must become familiarized with the historical and geographical contexts of the Indigenous countries they plan on working in. Using Canadian history as an example, the author argues that settler-colonial nationalisms continue to attempt to erase and replace Indigenous countries both in historical and geographical narratives. Building on Indigenous literature, the author then outlines the necessity of being aware of nation-specific protocols in law, culture, and knowledge production.


Drawing on this discussion, the author proposes a framework for preliminary research that can be used by qualitative researchers looking to ensure their projects are grounded in the best practices for the specific Indigenous countries they want to work with.


The author concludes that researchers should not expect Indigenous knowledge keepers to contribute large amounts of labour towards debunking colonial mythology and proving the existence of Indigenous countries. By doing this work as part of the preliminary research process, researchers create space for better collaborations with Indigenous communities.



Alderson, A. (2020), "Reframing research in Indigenous countries: A methodological framework for research with/within Indigenous nations", Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 36-57.



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