ACSPRI Conferences, RC33 Eighth International Conference on Social Science Methodology

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Storytelling as transformative praxis: Is it enough to transform the world?

Hazel Phillips, Moana Mitchell

Building: Law Building
Room: Breakout 9 - Law Building, Room 102
Date: 2012-07-10 03:30 PM – 05:00 PM
Last modified: 2011-12-22


Historical and persistent inequalities exist for rangatahi Māori and Pacific Island youth transitioning from school to further training, education or work in Aotearoa/New Zealand. In seeking to address the disparities that indigenous young people face in transitioning the research project 'Kei hea te tuna? Rangatahi Māori and Pacific Island youth experiences of education employment linkages' sought to privilege the voices of Māori and Pacific Island youth. The purpose of the research was not only to make indigenous youth visible in the sphere of public policy that affects them but also to put them in the centre of it. Positioned as a kaupapa Māori research project and informed by bell hooks notion of ‘talking back’ we used storytelling as a method to (1) elicit ‘rich pictures’ of the life worlds of the young people as they transitioned from school into further training, education or employment, and (2) to ‘talk forward’ their experiences and futures to effect structural change. Whilst acknowledging the transformative potential of creating spaces where young people could speak honestly and openly and have conversations about themselves, their places in the world, and their futures we consider that this is insufficient to lead to change in the public sphere. In this presentation we reflect on the challenges that this method poses, not only to our own research practice and the young people we worked with, but also to kaupapa Māori research and the transformative promises it contains. In doing so we first explore the theoretical and substantive limits and potential of promissory social research, and second we invite a discussion on the ways to turn ‘talking back’ into ‘talking forward’.