Knowledge Journey 2018

Part 1 (January)

For the past few years, I considered applying to do a PhD. Platforming off my masters, I would still want to focus on international trade, political economy, food, and Indigenous Peoples but I am still not quite there on my angle. This year, I have decided to undertake some personal research for two reasons, to:

  1. help shape my angle
  2. build depth of knowledge

One of the things I’ve noticed since finishing my masters, is the superficial level of knowledge I developed over a broad range of kaupapa, rather than the depth I enjoyed during study. Part of that is not reading as much as I used too – or not reading the right kinds of things. The other part is spreading my brain over too many things, rather than being focused. To increase my knowledge depth, I developed a bit of a framework on how I will target my research:

  1. Climate change as the lens.
  2. Local, National, Global as the levels.
  3. Māori as the audience.

I’m still exploring what issues I will focus on, but these are some things that spark my interests:

  • Participation (from the affordability angle)
  • Adaptation to climate change for the urban poor
  • Re-imagining a Māori economy (moving away from growth to thriving)
  • Performative wokeness

A quirk to my research will be shifting from a development to advancement narrative. I recall a discussion thread from 2014. One of the participants had advocated for advancement over development. I was indifferent at that point. I was part way through my masters and was comfortable with the term development, as I didn’t see the two phrases as having any major differences in intention. Additionally, I’d been exploring Amartya Sen’s work and was comfortable with the notion that development was about increasing choices to expand freedoms.

I’m still fine with the term development, especially Sen’s work, but I have developed a personal preference for the term advancement e.g. Māori advancement, economic advancement and so on. I do appreciate that there is risk in the term, since colonisers have long referred to Indigenous Peoples as “less advanced” and that using advancement could be seen as entrenching those notions. That is, that the imperative of advancement is movement toward whiteness. However, I don’t see development as being any less problematic since it is also prone to the same argument.

When I think about development, and how it is conceived at a practical level, the signifier of development seems to be growth, and more specifically economic growth. If economic growth is the practical imperative, then advancement becomes something quite different from development. For me, advancement brings to mind the idea of propelling forward, regardless of whether the imperative is growth or some other measure. It provides space to tell a story about non-linear journeys that cross-sect and intersect contemporaneously or asynchronously.

Hoping to have a brief summary literature review and an outline ready by the end of March, although that is approaching at a rapid pace…I’m likely to be far more piecemeal and will likely end up doing short lit reviews threads on twitter.