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Researcher Development

Researcher Development

A glossary of terms

Power is the ability to exercise control over personal relationships, lands, social dynamics, professional institutions and regimes of truth. Power can regulate social discourses, dispositions and what count as knowledge/truth.

Decolonisation is an on-going process of undoing colonial and imperialist logics embedded within power structures, knowledge production and social orders.

Representation is a system by which language, discourse and power deal with and present social markers and groups such as gender, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity, culture, and social/world events to an audience.

Reflexivity refers to the process of examining one’s beliefs, assumptions, bias and practices which shape the research process and knowledge production.

Positionality refers to understanding and critical awareness of one’s position in relation to the research study, social context and the world. Researcher’s positionality influences every stage of the research process, from the way the research problem is formulated to how ‘data’ is collected, gathered and interpreted, and finally how knowledge is produced.

Indigenous Peoples is a terminology that should not be homogenised. They can be referred to First Peoples, First Nations, Aboriginal Peoples, or Native Peoples. They are culturally ethnic groups who are known to be the first earliest inhabitants of particular lands.

Colonialism is the practice of having full or partial control and domination over another country. Colonialism can be enacted through language, economy, politics, military occupation or other socio-cultural and political practices.

Coloniality is a concept advanced in postcolonial studies, decoloniality and American subaltern studies which examines the long-standing power structures, legacies and logics of European colonialism which are embedded in social orders and forms of knowledge.

Imperialism is an ideology that seeks to extend the domination and control of one country over other territories through military force or soft power such as cultural influence.

Whiteness is an ideology, a racial discourse and a socially constructed identity as a result of colonial projects and legacies which have maintained whiteness as the standard through which regimes of truth and thoughts are developed.

Minoritized communities is a contested term which describes groups of people who have been historically marginalised and who are defined as ‘minority’ by a larger dominant group. Other terminologies have been used such as ‘BAME’, ‘BIPOC’ or ‘Global Majority’.

Disclaimer: these terms are defined in the context of undertaking research from a decolonising lens. Their definitions are contested, complex and not fixed.

All these texts are available through the University of Exeter library.

Dr Riadh Ghemmour holds a PhD in Education from the University of Exeter. He is currently a visiting lecturer working with international students at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London). He is also an educational consultant working for the MA Education Consultancy (ltd) which provides trainings and coaching sessions on decolonial and antiracist praxis.

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