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The Khipu Model: An Indigenous Political Theory and Research Methods

The Khipu Model: An Indigenous Political Theory and Research Methods


MARIAELENA HUAMBACHANO:
I feel very honored to be here presenting about the
khipu model as a metaphor that has helped me to develop this
indigenous research framework. First of all, I
should say, I would like to acknowledge the
peoples of this land, the Narragansett people. Also would like to
acknowledge the Andean people, who are my ancestors
back in Peru. And also the Maori
people of Aoteaora, New Zealand, which
has become my home, and my friends and allies
over the past 20 years. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] I just greeted you in
the Quechua language of my ancestors, and also in the
language of the Maori people. Welcome and thank you for
coming to my presentation today. As Bob mentioned, I’m working
on a book project entitled Global Indigeneity,
Sustainability and Food Politics. And today I’m going to talk
specifically about the research methods of my
research, and how I came to develop the khipu
model as an innovative research framework honoring the
voices of the ancestors. My presentation has
three main sections. First, I want to talk about
why I became so involved in designing the khipu as an
indigenous research framework. How does the khipu work? Why I use the khipu
as a metaphor. I want to explain about
how I developed the khipu. And finally, we will have
time to discuss more and have a nice discussion at the
end of the presentation, and over drinks as well. [CHUCKLES] So today, without
any further ado, I want to talk
about why I wanted to develop the khipu model. For me, being born in
Peru, raised in Lima, and then traveling to New
Zealand at a very young age has exposed me to this
cross-culture experience. Learning about the Maori
people, the culture, knowing and understanding
about indigenous ways of knowing and being. Then going back to
Peru and traveling all throughout the
country, I became aware that there is a disconnection
between how knowledge is understood and
practiced in Aoteaora, and how knowledge
has been produced in Quechua communities. Traveling throughout
the highlands of Peru, I started working with
Quechua communities. And their straggles
and their discontent when it comes to research
was expressed to me in different examples. And they mentioned
to me, we are very tired of having
another researcher. I was just traveling, trying to
find a topic for my research. I’m talking– this picture’s
back in 2009, 2010, so it’s been eight years. And I’m still working with them. And they mentioned
to me, well, there are many research that come,
appropriate the knowledge, and then leave. But we are trying to find ways
to preserve our knowledge. And those discussions
led me to think, how come it’s different
in New Zealand? How come we have a New Zealand
established indigenous research framework named kaupapa Maori? How is different in Peru? And then they even told me. You know, when
they come and ask, for instance, about how many
medicinal plants we have, I tell them we have 20. And with a cheek-in-tongue,
they told me, but we have more than 20. So that sort of understanding
about how they’re trying to preserve the knowledge
in this passive-aggressive attitude has led me to think
hard about the research and research methods
I want to adopt when it comes to my research
with the Quechua and Maori communities. I went back to New Zealand. I sat there working on
the literature review. I didn’t take the
comments lightly. I took them and I
regard them highly. And this is when I
started studying more about the discourse about
indigenous methodologies, Western methodologies. I have this insider knowledge,
having an indigenous heritage, and also an outsider
knowledge, because I am trained in Western academia. When it comes to Western
research paradigms, I’ve been trained in
qualitative methods. As Bob mentioned, I come
from the international– I have an international
business degree. I come from the
University of Auckland, where I was actually
very privileged to be working with Maori
scholars who has been very fundamental
in inspiring and developing the khipu model. Western worldviews are a
side of worldviews cluster on norms and beliefs esteeming
from a Western perspective. Worldviews, though, the
concept of worldviews as described by
many anthropologists from early
anthropologists working with native communities– [INAUDIBLE],, Levi-Strauss–
some more contemporary, such as Margaret Mead. They have described
that worldviews– it’s in a nutshell mental– it’s a mental lanes entrenched
on how you see the word. And it’s embedded on
values and beliefs. That frames and in a
Western research paradigm. So you have this Western
research paradigm, and go and conduct research
with indigenous communities, you will find the
disconnect, because it’s based on a Western worldviews. Now, if we think about
indigenous worldviews– by the way, the other
ways of knowing, and these other ways of knowing
is indigenous knowledge. And indigenous
knowledge is based on the essence of worldviews. Again, it’s a set
values and beliefs esteeming from indigenous
ways of knowing and being. In the case of indigenous
research paradigms, indigenous methodologies honors
knowledge, principles, beliefs, and values esteem from
indigenous communities. The discrepancy between
Western research paradigm and an indigenous
research paradigm has been discussed widely. Especially in New
Zealand since the ’70s, when the country was going
through the revitalization of knowledge. Matauranga in Maori
means knowledge. And most of the scholars
that now well-known scholars such as Graham Smith, he
wrote his thesis entirely on the kaupapa Maori
theory and practices. Later on, and in the
’90s, Linda Smith, she wrote the book
Decolonizing Methodologies. Linda Smith articulated
her discontent from how research
has been conducted with Maori communities and
also with other indigenous community. And she urged us to think
about the key components of an indigenous
research model, first of all asking, who will
benefit from the research? And who is interested
[INAUDIBLE]?? And she even takes
it even further. In discussions that I had
with my colleagues back home in New Zealand, it
came at the core of, do you have a good heart when
you go and conduct research? Who’s going to be
writing the research? Who’s going to be
asking those questions? And the understanding
of how research should be conducted
when you work with indigenous communities
is often overlooked and is not clearly understood
in Western academia. Leaders [INAUDIBLE] started
the colonial movement, a colonial project about
developing indigenous research frameworks that are more
aligned to the ways of acquiring knowledge, the ways
how indigenous peoples value and exchange knowledge. There are other scholars that
have supported Linda Smith and other indigenous
scholars in their fight to develop alternative
research frameworks. For instance, in Latin America,
we have Walter Mignolo, we have Gustavo Esteva,
we have Tirzo Gonzales. In North America, we
have Maggie Kovack. On Oceania, we have Sean Wilson. I’m drawing from
all those indigenous and non-indigenous scholars
to develop the khipu. When it comes to social
science discipline, there’s also has been an
improvement, and there’s also has been a desire to be able
to understand indigenous communities, indigenous
ways of knowing and being. Adopting methods are
more cultural sensitive. In the case of
anthropology, we’ve seen more research conducted
through reflexivity and ethnographic lanes. In regards to indigenous
and ethnic studies, critical race theory
has played a key role in understanding the social
justice issues happening with indigenous communities. And adopting participatory
research approach, and being able to
engage scholarship with the purpose of
understanding more the ways of knowing and being
of communities around the world. Centering the best
culture-appropriate ways to conduct research. It is within this space, drawing
from a non-indigenous and indigenous scholars
and literature that I took on the role
to develop the khipu. Because I wanted to honor
the voices of the ancestors. And in honoring the
voices of the ancestors, I decided to use the khipu. And I use the khipu
as a metaphor. And also because
the khipu until now is one of the most known
record-keeping system invented by indigenous peoples. And I wanted to highlight
the knowledge systems. The khipu, for the ones
that don’t know much about the khipu, the khipu’s
an Andean record-keeping system developed by the Andean people
during the Andean civilization back in the 16th century. And they have the
main primary code. And also, they have pendants. And in the pendants, they
have different knots, different colors,
different ways how that are supporting the khipu. And every single node
and all the threads that are supporting
the khipu, they contain different
sources of information. In Inca time, they were
used to tell about history of specific community. They was used for accounting
purposes, for taxation. Because of the characteristics
of the khipu, and specifically having this main code
as a fundamental basis to hold in this
body of knowledge, I use it to start
framing the khipu model. And in essence,
and in a nutshell, the khipu model highlights
Quechua and Maori worldviews. It as an indigenous knowledge
base research framework. Highlights Quechua and Maori–
and I explain more about, and give you more examples of
why I center these worldviews. So the epistemology, the main
code, the one that is across, is based on Quechua
and Maori worldviews. It adopts a participatory
action research. We are working with
and for communities to express [INAUDIBLE]. Validates knowledge
systems, understands that each indigenous group
is unique, and each of them represents a wealth
body of knowledge. Language is important
for indigenous peoples. And it’s crucial, it’s at
the heart of the cultures. And knowledge is shared
through language, through metaphors or histories. Additionally, the khipu is
centered on indigenous values and protocols. It draws from the literature
of the kaupapa Maori research framework, and also draws from
the Potato Park bioculture protocol in Peru. And in essence, the khipu
provides accountability and responsibility when
conducting research with indigenous communities. The framing stage is important. It’s a very important
stage, because here’s when I position the khipu. The positionality
in the khipu, it’s based on the Quechua
and Maori worldviews. Indigenous worldviews
are holistic in nature. We are, every single being,
human and non-human– humans and non-humans, when
I’m referring to the mountains, the rivers, the sea– all of them work together
in a holistic way. Each of them have
a key unique role in making sure that the whole
environment is working together and is healthy, and thereby
provides the well-being for the whole of the society. Highlighting the uniqueness
of indigenous worldviews, I’m grounding the khipu model
on the Quechua and Maori, and also recognizing that
the [INAUDIBLE] worldviews exist knowledge systems. And knowledge systems
are important, and are unique to
these two groups. Also, languages. The khipu acknowledges the
transmission of stories. In my case, when I
investigated about the food systems of the
Quechua and Maori, there were so many metaphors. They use the kumara,
for instance, which is a Maori sacred crop. The origins of the
kumara, and how they use the kumara to
relate to their ancestors. And in the case of
Peru, the tradition that they always carry
when conducting ceremonies. They have the Kinto ceremony,
where they grab three main coca leaves before each ceremony. The main leader will grab
the three coca leaves, and then will talk to– always facing the
east, where the sun– and also facing
the main mountain. And when she does that,
she does that to highlight that we’re asking permission
to all the environment, and to allow us
to share knowledge in a safe environment. So those protocols and
ways how indigenous peoples understand the
sharing of knowledge, and value of knowledge, it’s
acknowledged in the khipu. The khipu has
three main threads. Ways of knowing, epistemology,
ways of being, ontology– which is drawing from
the Quechua and Maori worldviews, kaupapa Maori,
Andean biocultural– and ways of doing. Related to ethical
principles, and related to how this model will form the
best method to conduct research with indigenous communities. So now I will explain you in
depth about the knowing stage. I’m grounding– this
is the main code. I’m grounding the methodology
on Quechua and Maori worldviews. As I mentioned to
you, it’s holistic. Every single organism
and living being works together to honor
the voices of ancestors, to honor the land. An example about the uniqueness
of the Quechua and Maori worldviews is their
understanding of the land. When I was conducting
interviews, and I was working
with them, I ask, what do you think of the land? And they told me, on the Quechua
side, land is our mother. It’s Pachamama, Mother Earth. Similarly, in New Zealand,
the answers were Papatuanuku, or Mother Earth is my mother. And I am tangata
whenua, which means, I am the peoples of the lands. So here, I came to understand
that the concept of land is ingrained in the Quechua
and Maori worldviews, and it shapes their worldviews,
and shapes how they conduct themselves, and how they use
their worldviews and knowledge in connection with the land
and the whole environment for agricultural practices
and to preserve knowledge. When we talk about knowledge,
and the epistemology, and the origins of knowledge,
the khipu validates traditional ecological knowledge that
highlights that every single indigenous group–
every single community– will have their own
unique knowledge system. In the case of the
Quechua, to give you an example, their knowledge
system of different food production, the different
techniques that they use, the plowing of the land,
the selection of the seeds. And in the case of
the Maori people, the knowledge is
embedded in spiritualism, and how they conduct ritual
and ceremonies for the growing and harvesting of
the food crops. So we can see
different experiences when it comes to knowledge
emerge from these two indigenous worldviews. And the way how Quechua
and Maori acquire knowledge and disseminate
knowledge is through a collectivistic approach. They work together in the
land, they talk to one another. It’s a very
collectivistic society, and they learn by doing. So a participatory action
research, we are communities. I was working with communities,
and for communities is at the core of the khipu model. So now we have the
[INAUDIBLE] epistemology. Every single thread
is together– they work together. They’re inter-related,
interconnected. One helps and informs the other. In this case, the knowing
is supporting ontology. Ways of being. Quechua and Maori worldviews,
traditional ecological knowledge. And here, I’m drawing from
the kaupapa Maori research. Kaupapa Maori research, it’s
a Maori-centric research framework. And how my colleagues
in New Zealand told me to understand that it
is done by Maori, with Maori, and for Maori. But it doesn’t mean that we
can’t use the same principles and the same concept
of the kaupapa Maori when we developed an
indigenous research framework. In this case, this research
is done with Quechua and Maori people, by Quechua
and Maori people, and for Quechua
and Maori people. The khipu provides the
setting of self-determination of Quechua and Maori to
guide the understanding on what are the best research
methods for me to use. In this stage, I was
already in discussions with both the Quechua
and Maori when it comes to, what sort of
questions am I allowed to ask? Or vice versa. In this stage, I was already
in discussions about, what’s the topic of my research? What research is needed? As opposed to me
coming with the idea that there is an issue here. There is a food security issue. My approach was, I want
to hear your stories. I want to know about
what are the pressing concerns that you’re facing. What issues, food security,
land rights issues. And they all expressed
concerns about food security. And how I started building
up my own research project. Kaupapa Maori has
main key principles. I’m drawing from the
principle of ata. Ata talks about the growing
of respectful relationships. When it comes to
research, I’m growing respectful relationships
with the study communities, with the participants. And they’re also–
at this stage, they’re thinking about
whether they actually want to share knowledge
with me, or don’t want to share knowledge with me. The principal of ako is
a pedagogical technique that help us to build up
respectful relationships. An example is, when I
go to the communities and I will start discussing
about food productions, or about specific
indigenous crops, it is just not me learning,
or they learning from me. We’re learning from one another. And we’re developing and
building up knowledge together. And when it comes to the
Andean biocultural protocol, here I have to say
that, in New Zealand, we have established
research framework, which is the kaupapa Maori. And in Peru, there
is no such thing. There is no established
research framework. The closest to an indigenous
research framework, it’s the Andean
biocultural protocol based on the kaupapa Maori. It grabs some and takes
into consideration the main principle of
the kaupapa Maori, which is being able to acknowledge
sovereignty, autonomy of indigenous peoples to be able
to help us and work together as research partners
in the research. And also reciprocity, which
is similar to the principle of ako, building the
reciprocal relationships when we’re in the field. All these components– and I’m
drawing from these [INAUDIBLE] literature of the kaupapa
Maori and the Andean bioculture protocol to also bring up
the ethical principles. When it comes to ethical
principles, in New Zealand, the rigor of research is
different to the rigor of research in Peru. When it comes to the code
of ethics, I even had to– because there is no such
research framework in Peru, and it’s different– I had to be able to provide
an affidavit to the Universe of Auckland to
say that I’m going to conduct in the best
possible ethical way, and I’m going to acknowledge
the Andean cultural norms and protocols, to be
able to be at equal terms with the Maori
research framework. This is just to show you
the rigor of research and ethical principles
that are in New Zealand comparable to Peru. The kaupapa Maori
approach, as I mentioned, embodies how research
should be conducted with Maori communities,
but does not stop you from adopting
those principles when it comes to other
communities like I did. I’m drawing from
these frameworks, and the ways of knowing and ways
of being of Quechua and Maori people has guided me
to develop and use the best research
methods from my research with the Quechua and Maori. I acknowledge the storytelling. Most of the conversations
in the knowledge production, in knowledge sovereignty
that happened in the field and throughout my
interviews were in the form of metaphors and storytelling. Unstructured interviews,
because I gave them the freedom to tell me
whatever information they wanted to tell me. And talking circles. And you think, what’s the
difference between these and ethnographic research? The main difference is
that the khipu model highlights the cultural
norms and protocols, and centers the research
on indigenous worldviews. It’s centering the research, not
on a Western research paradigm, but on an indigenous
research paradigm, which permeates and transcends
all throughout the research framework. And now, I want to
tell you how they helped me to be able to collect
the data in Quechua Maori communities. The khipu model has let me to
go to the highlands of Peru to Cusco. I was working with four
Quechua communities in the region of
Cusco and in Lares. Had a great time
working with them, because the building a
relationship that took a period of six to seven years. It’s even now,
it’s still ongoing. And every time I go,
and it’s something that’s important as well when– in indigenous research
frameworks, accountability. Be accountable for the research. Being able to go back there
and share the findings. Maybe I should go back here. By the end, when I had
the research methods, and I already had the
workshops and talking circles, I was consulting with them
at every single stage, just to make sure the
research was conducted how they wanted me to be done. That was telling the story as– I was telling the story as seen
through an indigenous lens, in honoring the voices
of the ancestors. Here I’m in the
highlands of Peru. Similarly, in New Zealand,
I conducted my research in the North Island of the
country in four iwi, or tribes. And again, it’s been
great and fabulous to be able to work with them,
and feel honored that they share the knowledge with me. And I still go back
and share the findings, what sort of other information
they want to share with me. And also, what’s the benefit
of my research for them? One of the benefits
is that, being able to understand how
knowledge production is acquired in Peru about [INAUDIBLE],,
and seek sovereignty, and how we can
build up knowledge with Quechua communities. Here’s some examples of the
participatory action research. I conducted preliminary
workshops with both study communities prior,
during, and after. I conducted
workshops at the end, because I went back to
validate my findings. Here are some examples of–
these are the early 2014, 2016. And these are the
most recent pictures, when I went back last year. Again, to provide them
with a final product and the chapters of my book. I acknowledge their knowledge,
I’m still working with them. And again, the
principle of working with and for
indigenous communities is clearly articulated
in the khipu model. The khipu highlights Quechua and
Maori worldviews, the building of reciprocal
relationships, reflectivity, accountability– which is
key– and responsibility. Similarly here with
the Maori communities. Again, it’s early pictures. It’s 2011, 2014. I went back to visit
this amazing Maori scholar who’s been unwell. So [INAUDIBLE] has been
great in providing me valuable permission
of Maori people. And I went back to talk
to her about the findings and how we are been
able to connect Maori ancestors with
Quechua ancestors, and the knowledge that
has been produced. And this is a picture
with them last year, still working when it comes to
food sovereignty, food security issue with them. Responsibility is
key for the khipu. Because I have a role, not
just as a researcher, but as an indigenous researcher, to
go back to the communities and tell the story as
to retell the story. Because there are many stories
that have been told about them that are not correct. So my job, and the job with
other indigenous researchers, is to retell the story as seen
through an indigenous lens. Highlighting indigenous
worldviews, highlighting the ways of knowing and being. And producing a model that
supports, as I mentioned, the group of scholars,
indigenous and non-indigenous, that are working towards
building up frameworks that are more in resonance
with indigenous peoples’ ways of acquiring knowledge,
exchanging knowledge, and valuing knowledge. Another thing that I’d
like to mention here is that the khipu
not only help me to develop this indigenous
research methodology, but also articulated an
indigenous political theory of self-determination, because
it allowed me to give voices to indigenous communities,
to be able to tell and retell their stories. And also support social justice,
because the khipu model’s a model that can be used
in other communities. It’s a model that
can be adapted, it can be improved for the
study of communities in a more culturally-sensitive manner. And with that, kia ora,
solpayki, and thank you. And now we have more time
for question where I actually get more satisfaction about
it, so I can explain more about the khipu. [APPLAUSE]

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