Toward a Genealogy of the Researcher as Subject in Post/Decolonial Pacific Histories

Recent discussion has drawn out some important differences between postcolonial and decolonial theories. The former are associated primarily with the work of South Asian scholars working in cultural, literary, or historical studies; decolonial scholarship, by contrast, is located in Latin America and has emerged from sociological critiques of dependency theory. Shifting the locus of debate to the Pacific centers another subject in globalizing critiques of colonialism: the historian in indigenous communities. In this article, I examine how the role of the researcher is conceptualized in Linda Tuhiwai Smith's landmark work Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (1999). Revealing tensions between objectivity and intersubjectivity, on the one hand, and between essentialist identity and hybridity, on the other, I ask why Smith's book hinges on dichotomizing nonindigenous and indigenous researchers, who are by turn enabled or constrained in a colonial present. I situate this late twentieth-century subject in a genealogy of indigenous engagement with history and anthropology in New Zealand and contemporary problems of historical justice.