lived tensions

As noted in the beginning of the hypertext, the intent of this work is not to provide a definitive story, a "totalizing discourse" (Jickling, 2005, p. 256) nor a universalizing vision. It is not to pull a "god-trick" of seeing everywhere from nowhere (Haraway, 1991b, p. 189).

Rather it is in part, to show through both content and form, some ways of opening to an epistemology and ontology seldom explicitly acknowledged in the context of most Western research and representation. Its purpose is also to highlight some of the many discourses that make recognition and admission of, or explicit engagement with, an ontology of animism almost impossible.

Telling and theorizing this research process has been particularly challenging given the lack of any single accepted scientific theory to explain the kinds of trans-border communication used in this dissertation. Assumptions that received insights are simple projection, anthropomorphism, or that methods and ideas are instances of a more primitive way of being are not uncommon. While these challenges are worthwhile cautions (which I have done my best to attend to, primarily by cross-checking insights with previously written theoretical texts, critical readers, and the mixed modalities described in the methods section of the dissertation), they cannot and should not be universally painted onto insights gained through animist epistemes.

Furthermore, to require ongoing corroboration of animist knowing through a different epistemological and ontological frame may be useful for some, this desire denies the legitimacy of an animist epistemology in and of itself. In other words, this corroborative logic circles around to reinscribe some of the many discourses that make recognition and admission of, or explicit engagement with, an ontology of animism almost impossible.

Researching across human/nature/spirit divides is also challenging since it is often difficult to determine: (a) who to cite when trying to articulate and support some of the claims made herein, and (b) who to consult for assistance in method and interpretation. If one cites the source of knowledge as the plants themselves, he, (and especially she), is at risk of being assumed 'nuts' (Plumwood, 2002; see also, Jensen, 2004). If one cites Aboriginal scholars, writers or Elders, then that person risks being accused of appropriation and being admonished for looking to the Other for instruction.

The most frequent instruction is that one should go and do their own homework (Kuokkanen, 2006; O'Riley, 1993). But in a predominantly white, Christian context, who are the teachers? If one cites those who are outside peer-reviewed academic journals, the references often don't carry much weight. If one cites those who know and practice some of these ways, but who are not Aboriginal (e.g. Harner, 1988), accusations of ongoing appropriation and colonization emerge. If one refers to practices which some might call Pagan, risks increase.

Who does one cite, and perhaps just as significantly, who does one learn from? Who gets to be a legitimate reference, or teacher, and who (and what cultural and disciplinary practices) has the power to decide?