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Title: Synthesising a context-specific approach to Native American narratives : an analysis of philosophies of knowledge and cross-cultural communication in Native American and academic contexts
Author: Kirby, A. L.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2006
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This dissertation considers the tension between Native American and academic philosophies of knowledge and its implications for Native American literary and film criticism. Native American epistemologies tend to value knowledge that is experiential, implicit and reflected upon over a long period within a culturally meaningful environment. Academic epistemologies tend to value knowledge that can be fixed and communicated unambiguously in research papers. The research analyses the potential and limitations of three existing critical frameworks – “interruptive storytelling”, “conversive”, and “tribal-specific”, within a cross-cultural context, and considers which elements of each method might contribute to mediating between Native American and academic philosophies of knowledge. The “interruptive storytelling” approach exposes the interlocutor’s preconceptions and the limits on their understanding, initiating an “internal” dialogue that frustrates closure and mimics the openness of Native American narratives, but requires a level of reflexivity difficult for “outsider” researchers to achieve. The “conversive” approach seeks meaningfulness within the interconnections between all elements of the universe and democratises the critical process by undermining academic authority, but fails to acknowledge the rights of Native storytellers to limit access into their narratives. The “tribal-specific” approach inhibits the imposition of Eurocentric critical theories onto Native American texts, enabling narratives to be evaluated within a framework determined by tribally-specific aesthetics, but has limited potential in cross-cultural environment. By combining the most useful elements of each approach and applying them to context-specific readings of the films of victor Masayesva and George Burdeau the research synthesises a new flexible critical approach that considers narratives not only within the context of their production, but also the context of their performance and enables the development of “reflexive resonance” in researchers that respects tribal epistemologies while conforming to standards of scholarly research.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available