Doing Theological Research with Indigenous Peoples

  • Delfo Canceran University of Santo Tomas
Keywords: Indigenism, Indigenous Peoples, Postcolonial Theory, Research Method, Theologians


This paper proposes an indigenist research methodology that interfaces the indigenous and western knowledges but prioritizes the former in knowledge production promoting the self-representation of the indigenous peoples in their communities. Documents on the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) fully support the indigenous peoples in their right to self-determination and self-representation. Instead of helping the indigenous peoples recover from colonization, scholars using western methodological and theoretical frameworks reinforce the re-colonization in their cognitive paradigms. As the indigenous com­mu­ni­ties reclaim their rights to self-determination and self-representation, scholars are challenged to relearn from the indigenous peoples in their communities and to devise methodologies that represent the indigenous peoples in their scholarship and publication. To execute this research, theologians ought to engage into reflexivity as they face the indigenous peoples and to involve into teamwork collaborations with them and their spokespersons. They should work together to rescue the indigenous worldviews and reassert their contributions in knowledge production.


Bhabha, Homi. Location of Culture. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Cordoval, Amanda Jo and Knech, Lisa Mendoza. “Liminal Knowledge: Positioning Intersectionality in Academia.” Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies, 1. 11 (2018). DOI: 10.1177/1532708618819635. 20 December 2020.

Exley, Beryl, Whatman, Susan and Singh, Parlo. “Postcolonial, Decolonial Research Dilemmas: Fieldwork Australian Indigenous Contexts.” Qualitative Research, 18. 5 (2018), 526–537. DOI: 10.1177/1468794118778611. 20 December 2020.

Giddens, Anthony. New Rule of Sociological Method. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993.

Gutierrez, Gustavo. On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent. New York: Orbis Books, 1987.

International Labor Organization. “Sustainable Development Goals: Indigenous Peoples in Focus,” Geneva: Department of Communication and Public Information <> 20 December 2020.

Kirkness, Verna J. and Barnhardt, Ray. “First Nations and Higher Education: The Four R’s – Respect, Relevance, Reciprocity, Responsibility.” Journal of American Indian Education, 30.3 (1991): 1-15.

Lacugna, Catherine. Freeing Theology: The Essentials of Theology in Feminist Perspective. New York: Harper One, 1993.

Maggio, J., “Can the Subaltern Be Heard?: Political Theory, Translation, Representation, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak,” Alternatives 32 (2007), 419–443.

Malpas, Jeff and Zabala, Santiago. Consequences of Hermeneutics: Fifty Years after Gadamer's Truth and Method. Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2010.

Merry, Sally Engle. “Measuring the World: Indicators, Human Rights, and Global Governance,” Current Anthropology 52. 3 Supplement 3 (2011): 83-95.

Miranda, Jose P. Marx and the Bible: Critique of the Philosophy of Oppression. New York: Orbis Books, 1974.

Nathan, Dev and Kelkar, Govind. “Introduction.” Globalization and Indigenous Peoples in Asia: Changing the Local-Global Interface. London: Sage Publications, 2004.

Pope Francis. Laudato Si on Care for our Common Home <> 9 April 2020.

Pope Francis. Querida Amazonia <> 9 April 2020.

Russell-Mundine, Gabrielle. “Reflexivity in Indigenous Research: Reframing and Decolonizing Research?” Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 19 (2012). doi 10.1017/jht.2012.8. 20 December 2020.

Reuther, Rosemary Radford. Women Guides: Readings toward a Feminist Theology. New York: Beacon Press, 1996.

Rigney, Lester I. “Internationalization of an Indigenous Anticolonial Cultural Critique of Research Methodologies: A Guide to Indigenist Research Methodology and its Principles.” Journal for Native American Studies, 14.2 (1999): 109–121.

Ryder, Courtney, Mackean, Tamara, Coombs, Julieann, Williams, Hayley, Hunter, Kate, Holland, Andrew J. A. and Ivers, Rebecca Q. “Indigenous Research Methodology – Weaving a Research Interface.” International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 19. 3. DOI: 10.1080/13645579.2019.1669923. 8 April 2020.

Samson, Colin and Gigoux, Carlos. Indigenous Peoples and Colonialism. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017.

Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. “Introduction.” State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). New York: United Nations, 2004.

Segundo, Juan Luis. Liberation of Theology. Oregon: New York: Orbis Books, 1976.

Smith, Linda Tihiwai. Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books, 2012.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. “Can the Subaltern Speak.” Colonial Discourse and Post-colonial Theory: A Reader. New York and London: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.

United Nations. “United Nations Declarations of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.” New York, United Nations, 2008. <> 20 December 2020.

Xiiem, Jo-ann Archibald Q’uum Q’um, Lee-Morgan, Jenny Bol Jun and De Santolo, Jason. “Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as Methodology,” in Decolonizing Research: Indigenous Storywork as Methodology. Ed. Jo-ann Archibald Q’uum Q’um Xiiem, Jenny Bol Jun Lee-Morgan & Jason De Santolo. London: Zed Books, 2019.

Yap, Mandy Li-Ming & Watene, Krushil. “The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Indigenous Peoples: Another Missed Opportunity?” Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 2019 <> 20 December 2020.

How to Cite
Canceran, D. (2021). INDIGENIST METHOD. Journal of Dharma, 46(1), 61-86. Retrieved from