Anecdote as Method: A Contribution to the Project of Decolonizing the Academy

Authors: Abigail Neely*, Dartmouth College
Topics: Gender
Keywords: decolonization; methods; pedagogy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Balcony M, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this paper, I use three personal anecdotes – stories from my life as a researcher, teacher, and member of the university community (person who contributes to “service”) – to examine some of the questions and barriers that arise through a project to decolonize the academy. So doing, I argue that research agendas, teaching pedagogies, and service practices together reveal that decolonization is a project that is both about knowledge and about the material conditions of higher education. And further that decolonization highlights the entanglements of all aspects of professional life in the academy. As such, the project of decolonization poses a challenge to the university itself, a challenge that is always both material and metaphorical. By rooting this analysis in my experience in the academy, I argue that the anecdote, rather than the statistically-significant sample, must be the method of decolonization. After all, there are far too few people pushing a decolonial/liberation agenda to be statistically significant. More importantly, as feminist scholars have long understood, the personal anecdote in its specificity, it’s texture, its embodied knowledge is at least one key method available to this project of decolonization and liberation. Lastly, I argue that because new knowledge, knowledge that challenges current configurations of power, comes from different methods, ones that privilege experience, that recognize that ontology and epistemological are entwined, and that privilege difference. The anecdote-as-method does just that.

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