academic risks


"There is considerable tension between the invitation to learn better (perhaps 'more respectful' or 'more ecological') ways to be human" (Harvey, 2003, p. 302) and the difficulty gaining access to those ways. To gain access required undergoing a decolonizing process which included "erasing," or "clearing out," discourses that made it more difficult to hear the many voices of animate Earth.


Layered onto the many policing discourses that made difficult the completion of this dissertation are risks associated with challenging them, and thus inappropriately 'performing' human and academic as it is conceived in many Western and most academic contexts. During much of the production of this dissertation, to speak of my research processes was difficult and appeared to be fraught with many risks – risks that appeared as both technologies of power and technologies of self (Foucault, 1988). To gain and maintain access seems to have required significant risks including:

  1. the risk (and reality) of having proposals rejected at conferences
  2. the risk of not being part of the academic club (Boler, 1999) if I use languages and research methodologies not yet acknowledged in educational research
  3. the risk of being told 'your hands can't know' (comment from a senior faculty member in response to me describing parts of my research)
  4. the risk (and tension) of living very contradictory subjectivities/identities simultaneously in both my personal and professional lives, and of being continually rebuffed when I tried to explain....
  5. the risk of inappropriately performing human in Western and academic contexts (and associated risk of being told I am crazy) (see Jensen, 2004; Plumwood, 2000; Turner, 1993/2003; Williams, 2005)
  6. the risk of being accused of appropriation of indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing (Battiste & Henderson, 2000; Harvey, 2003; O'Riley, 2003; Tuhiwai Smith, 1999), or being labeled an Indian wannabe (O'Riley, 2003)*
  7. the risk (and tension) associated with reading dialogically (i.e. in communication with animate Earth)
  8. the risk of being explicit about using a dowser as one of my key research tools
  9. the risk of not getting a job (I was applying for jobs during the fall/winter of 2006/2007)
  10. the risk of not conforming to the 7-page guidelines for formatting dissertations, published by the Faculty of Graduate Studies
  11. ..............the risk of not passing my dissertation committee, defense, or one of the many other gatekeepers of the academy

*As I continue to bring my research forward, I have received much support from Aboriginal colleagues and find more and more non-Aboriginal scholars who have also disrupted many of the discourses that work to maintain socially constructed human/nature boundaries.