International Journal of Conflict Engagement and Resolution

Article

Scholarship as Activism in the Field of Native Studies

A Potential Model for Peace Studies

Keywords native, indigenous, activism, practice, peace
Authors Jesse James
Author's information

Jesse James
Jesse James is a PhD student in the joint programme in Political Science and Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Her research interests include indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, and the role of international law in assertions of Native and indigenous rights.
  • Abstract

      Native studies is a field in the United States in which many scholars count themselves as activists both in scholarship and practice because their central focus is service to the American Indian community. This interdisciplinary field provides an interesting contrast to peace studies, a similarly interdisciplinary field that, while normatively committed to the study of peace, consists primarily of research that often does not similarly commit the researcher in service to conflict-engaged communities. This article utilizes first-person interviews and evaluates Native studies scholarship through the lens of activism as a potential model for practice-relevant scholarship in peace studies. The concept of scholarship itself as a peace practice is premised on the consideration of both teaching and publishing as forms of activism, here exemplified by Native studies scholars. When acts of scholarship themselves are considered activism and thus practice, the distinction between scholarship and practice is blurred, presenting a challenge to the binary categorizations that have allowed the academy to privilege the knowledge of scholars over that of practitioners. I argue that the experience of Native studies scholars may offer insight for the construction of a framework for peace studies that accounts for scholarship as activism, and in so doing, is better able to evaluate and include both scholarship and practice.

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