IPE TIG Week: Being a Good Guest in Different Cultural Spaces by Aneta Katarina Raiha Cram

Kia ora koutou (greetings everyone),

I am Aneta Katarina Raiha Cram, connected to the Ng?ti Kahungunu and Ng?ti Pahuwera iwi (tribes) on the east coast of the North Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. I am a doctoral student at Victoria University of Wellington where the focus of my studies is to explore frameworks from different Indigenous communities in Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific and the United States. The intention of this work is to highlight what exists, the process for development, what knowledge was included and an insight into the impact that having the framework is having on the communities for which the framework has been developed.

As part of my work, I am exploring what it means to be a good guest in different cultural spaces. As a M?ori person in Aotearoa, we have been following the traditions of Linda Tuhiwai Smith’s work for more than 20 years. Kaupapa M?ori (a M?ori way) theory/ methodology/ framework has guided thinking on who can do work with M?ori and in what ways. It is a by M?ori, for M?ori, with M?ori approach where M?ori are leading, and M?ori ways of doing and seeing the world are privileged. With this foundation, it’s only natural that I pause and reflect when considering doing work in other Indigenous spaces. The questions of: why am I wanting to do this work in international spaces? And, what benefit comes from having this research be inclusive of different Indigenous communities? went through my head more than once. Though incomplete, my reasoning centres around the importance of connecting and learning from one another as Indigenous peoples rather than drawing only from western frames of reference to compare and critically engage with different evaluation practices.

The following “Hot Tips” are a few ideas that may be useful when you think about how you position yourself in different cultural spaces. 

Hot Tips

  • Something that I have learned is to make sure to introduce yourself in a way that connects with others. Have an understanding of what is appropriate for the people that you are connecting with.
  • Position yourself: State where you come from, sharing how you connect to a people, a history, a land and waterway.
  • Move with humility: be a humble guest and listener. You are not the expert on this cultural space, act accordingly.

Being a good guest is also thinking about your presence and your responsibility to protect and respect anything and everything that is shared with you.

Indigenous Data Sovereignty is a term that is becoming increasingly common in the research and evaluation spaces. The movement of ideas of data sovereignty and the necessity of Indigenous data sovereignty crosses boundaries as Indigenous and colonised peoples have shared experiences of researchers entering their communities uninvited and taking from them, either through deliberate deception or with the understanding of reciprocity and good intentions that never materialised.

What dictates sovereignty with regards to data is that information shared is treated with the care and respect of the customs (laws, practices, values) of the Indigenous peoples from which it comes.

Hot Tips

  • Reflect and question how your work will support community wellbeing
  • Have you had discussions with communities around data sovereignty? How will your work respect community ownership of data?
  • In what ways do you intend to share back evaluation findings?

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Indigenous Peoples in Evaluation (IPE) TIG week. All posts this week are contributed by members of the IPE Topical Interest Group. 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 aea365@eval.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.

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