Good day to you all, I return to continue what I started, when I previously mentioned the African Diaspora and its effects on my social identity and professional role. Once again, I am Charity Odetola, a West African woman and budding evaluator, where the aftermath of colonization and the African Diaspora have influenced a lack of national and self identity. However, this paucity of identity has urged me to practice moments of self-reflection and reflexivity, especially of my positionality and how it influences my surroundings. In those times of introspection, a main point of inquisition is to what extent can I approach the field of evaluation and its practice, while needing a stronger footing on my sense of identity.
In evaluation, we often hear that context matters. Yet, how can I as an evaluator situate my evaluation approach and practice without first knowing or understanding my personal context. I purport that being aware of my inner context would allow me to better understand the influences, biases, and subjectivities I can bring to an evaluation. Thus, if these were missing, an evaluation can already be in jeopardy before its launch.
To overcome this impasse, I have set out to understand my current situation and the different practices, behaviors, and values that have led to it. As a result, I came to see how current behaviors have led me to ask myself if I am a colonizer or decolonizer of methodologies. Coming from societies previously colonized by European powers, I ask myself in what ways am I contributing to or perpetuating colonizing beliefs in my evaluation work? Does, and to what extent, can pursuing higher education in a Western culture, where practices and behaviors held by my family’s culture might be regarded as secondary or lesser, play a detrimental role to decolonizing mainstream methodologies and approaches? Subsequently, am I currently adopting practices that impose my current education on “alternative” curricular systems?
Asking myself these questions regularly allows me to do my part and my best to consider “alternative” methodologies and schools of thoughts, than those already established (usually influenced by the West).
Were this process to strike a chord with your current practices, I invite you, at your discretion, to practice moments of reflexivity that could affect your evaluation practice.
The source of my inanity and misplaced identity have highlighted the need for action, to underscore the importance of decolonizing methodologies. A lesson I’ve learned, and I’m still learning, is highlighting my “alternative” culture, and imposing it as having great importance and being of good repute, to decolonize Western methodologies.
Reversing sail: A history of the African diaspora, written by Michael A. Gomez, is a great text on the topic mentioned in this entry.
Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.