Doing Animist Research in Academia: A Methodological Framework

M.J. Barrett

Abstract


Epistemologies, ontologies, and education based on colonial Eurocentric assumptions have made animism difficult to explicitly explore, acknowledge, and embody in environmental research. Boundaries between humans and the “natural world,” including other animals, are continually reproduced through a culture that privileges rationality and the intellectual as primary ways of knowing, even though they have been repeatedly acknowledged as not enough to address increasingly pressing environmental concerns. I use my own doctoral research journey to explore possible methods for working with nonhuman “persons” as co-participants in, rather than objects of, research. Through the identification and use of a dialogic methodology and methods, I show how animism, as an enacted epistemology, can be incorporated into an approach to research and its representation in multi-media hypertext. By engaging animism as a paradigmatic framework for research, environmental educators can respond to repeated calls for epistemological diversity, and more significantly, make use of research approaches that support the explicit acknowledgement of other-than-human contributors to knowledge-making.

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