Transforming Knowledge Production: Decolonizing Information Literacy
How can teaching librarians use decolonizing methodologies to involve students in knowledge production? Inspired by our participation in a Faculty Learning Community on community-based research and social justice, this is the question we asked ourselves as instructors of an introductory information literacy course for incoming freshmen at CSU East Bay. Information literacy curriculum reflexively validates traditional forms of knowledge production that can be alienating to students. In particular, students’ lived experiences, and their familial and cultural wealth, is displaced by a curriculum that privileges external scholars’ representations of their lives and communities. Many communities that are underrepresented in higher education distrust the motives of researchers due to a history of cultural and intellectual appropriation (Tuhiwai Smith, 1999). As a result, students are sometimes reluctant to embrace a new role as academic researcher. However, we see an opportunity within information literacy instruction to empower students to take ownership of their own knowledge production, while also providing them with the tools to participate in the world of traditional scholarly research.
This session will explore the ways in which teaching librarians with limited resources can apply social justice tenets to information literacy instruction. Participants will discuss how decolonizing methodologies intersect with ideas of authority. We will also involve attendees in classroom activities that make the connections between research and community explicit.
Upon completing this session, participants will be able to:
- define the decolonizing methodologies of research;
- identify the ways in which traditional forms of knowledge production alienate underrepresented groups;
- describe how information literacy instruction can empower students to apply research skills to their lived experience;
- develop course content that emphasizes student agency in knowledge production.
Tuhiwai Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. New York: Zed Books.
Diversi, M., & Finley, S. (2010). Poverty pimps in the Academy: A dialogue about subjectivity, reflexivity, and power in decolonizing production of knowledge. Cultural Studies ⇔ Critical Methodologies, 10(1), 14-17.
Glickman, S. W., Ndubuizu, A., Weinfurt, K. P., Hamilton, C. D., Glickman, L. T., Schulman, K. A., & Cairns, C. B. (2011). The case for research justice: Inclusion of patients with limited English proficiency in clinical research. Academic Medicine, 86(3), 389-393.
Reyes Cruz, M. (2008). What if I just cite Graciela? Working toward decolonizing knowledge through critical ethnography. Quantitative Inquiry, 14(4), 651-658.