Research Models, Community Engagement, and Linguistic Fieldwork: Reflections on Working within Canadian Indigenous Communities

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ISSN: 1934-5275

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Czaykowska-Higgins, Ewa
collaboration, fieldwork, community-based, research model
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This paper reflects on different research models in linguistic fieldwork and on different levels of engagement in and with language-speaking communities, focusing on the Canadian context. I begin by examining a linguist-focused model of research: this is language research conducted by linguists, for linguists; the language-speaking community’s participation is limited mostly to being the source of fluent speakers, and the level of engagement in the community by a linguist is relatively small. I then consider models that involve more engaged and collaborative research, and define the Community-Based Language Research model which allows for the production of knowledge on a language that is constructed for, with, and by community members, and that is therefore not primarily for or by linguists. In CBLR, linguists are actively engaged partners working collaboratively with language communities. Collaborative models of research seem to be closest in spirit to models advocated by Indigenous groups in Canada and elsewhere. I reflect here on (1) why one might choose to work within a collaborative research model, and (2) what some of the challenges are that linguists face when they conduct research collaboratively. In a broad sense the purpose of this paper is to think through some questions that an “outsider” linguist might face when undertaking linguistic research in an Indigenous community today.

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