University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Decolonising methodologies: emergent learning in island research

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 04:01 authored by Carol Farbotko, Phillipa WatsonPhillipa Watson, Kitara, T, Elaine StratfordElaine Stratford
This article documents an attempt to decolonise our approach to methodology to explicitly show respect for islands and their islanders. Our twin starting points are an awareness of a turn to the Anthropocene in studies related to islands and an appreciation of the imperative to think outside colonial frames. The Anthropocene has been conceived as both an enduring colonising force and a significant moment in decolonisation, and islands have been viewed as emblematic of the Anthropocene, so the relationship between them is complex. These dynamic conceptions raise dilemmas for those wanting to apply methodologies to island research and negotiate ethical relations across multiple geographies and knowledge systems. For those whose cultures have been subjected to colonial oppressions, there are emotional and material costs and varied risks in participating in attempts to decolonise island research. Settler researchers seeking to ally themselves with others to advance such agendas and aspirations may slow or damage decolonising practices if they act without appropriate permissions, respectful commitments to support and understand decolonisation, and preparedness to engage in deep learning about what decolonisation of knowledge means. With these challenges in mind, we detail an approach to decolonising one of our own island research projects in ways that are enriched by a Tuvaluan concept, Fale Pili, which means treating a neighbour’s problems as your own.


Publication title

Geographical Research






School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Asia

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2021 Institute of Australian Geographers

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania