Offended by Offence

Intellectual diversity and the CPSA

A proposal for a round table is being submitted to the Canadian Political Science Association to discuss research ethics and aboriginal peoples at the annual conference at Wilfrid Laurier University on May 16-18, 2011.  The political scientists who have agreed to participate include myself, Rhoda Howard-Hassmann and Tom Flanagan.  Invitations were also extended to promoters of indigenous theories and methodologies in political science, but these attempts have been met with silence (so far).  Efforts to encourage intellectual diversity at the Canadian Political Science Association seem to have foundered once again.

The abstract for the round table is posted below.  It should be noted that participants who would like to advocate different standards for the study of aboriginal peoples can be added to the round table at any time.



Aboriginal Peoples, Political Science and Research Ethics:  Should Indigenous Politics be Studied Differently?

In the development of research in Canada, there are increasing attempts to ensure that the study of human subjects is conducted ethically. As a result, bodies like the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [SSHRC] recommend that research ethics boards should be put in place to review research applications requesting funding. Of particular significance is research pertaining to the study of groups that are perceived as vulnerable. There is great concern about the impact that research can have on aboriginal people, for example, because of the power imbalances instituted by colonization. It is argued that additional protection should be provided to the native population, and it is assumed that the enhancement of indigenous cultures should be a goal of the studies conducted. But to what extent do these developments in research ethics place onerous constraints on political scientists? Political scientists from a variety of perspectives will give their views as to whether it is appropriate to ask academics to take a position on cultural enhancement in their research. Presenters also will inquire if these guidelines have the potential to compromise academic freedom. Questions will be asked about the relationship between ethics guidelines and the politicization of research, and the possibility that this development could inhibit, rather than enhance, a researcher’s attempts to increase knowledge about the actual character of indigenous politics.