Narrative Inquiry as a Decolonising Methodology

As part of the #MethodsMatter Blog Series, this week, we spoke with Prof Hamdan, based at the University of Dammam, who has written on Narrative Inquiry as a decolonising methodology. Her use of narrative inquiry stemmed from her PhD, which explored how Arab Muslim women in Canada reflected on their lives and their gender roles.

Prof Hamdan had realised the potential power of narratives when she had started reading bell hooks’ book Teaching to Transgress. ‘It had a high impact on me as an educator, a Muslim minority, as a teacher, and as a pedagogue’, she explained.

Whilst she was conducting a literature review for her PhD research, she had realised the potential impact that this approach could make. Much of the pre-existing work in this area continued to reproduce the Orientalist myth that Muslim women were passive victims of faith-based oppression, who needed to be liberated into Western ways of life.

Prof Hamdan realised that narratives inquiry could shatter these myths, challenging the power and prejudice that undergirded them. The narratives that she collected and explored spoke to the varied experiences of Arab Muslim women in Canada, and their diverse, nuanced reflections on gender roles.

Whereas other accounts of Arab Muslim women in Canada, and beyond, had been dehumanising, Prof Hamdan’s narrative inquiry was inherently humanising. ‘To present participants’ stories and views’, she explained, ‘ makes research real’.

Engaging with this approach was an ‘eye opener’ for Prof Hamdan. ‘We empower ourselves and others through stories’, she concluded, ‘when we include other people’s stories this empowers them and others who go through the same experience’.

You can read ‘Narrative Inquiry as a Decolonising Methodology’, here.