An Afrocentric dialogic approach is a research tool that builds on various qualitative methods to access and honour repressed voices, particularly those of people of African descent.
It is a culturally grounded social work practice-based model that affirms, codifies, and integrates everyday cultural experiences, values, and interpretations that cut across people of African descent. The Afrocentric perspective is a devotion to the idea that what is in the best interest of African consciousness is at the heart of ethical behaviour and seeks to cherish African culture and heritage.
An Afrocentric dialogic approach is a research methodology that centres on African culture, history, and values and challenges the Eurocentric domination and distortion of African realities. This approach affirms the dignity and agency of African people and fosters mutual listening, understanding, and co-creation of meaning among participants.
The dialogic mode of communication in this approach fosters a collaborative and respectful relationship between researchers and participants. In addition, the course emphasizes the importance of elders, who are respected members of the African community with wisdom, experience, and cultural competence. They act as co-researchers and co-facilitators of the research process, providing guidance, support, and validation to the youth participants.
In this approach, the youth of African descent face marginalization, alienation, and disenfranchisement in their social contexts. They are regarded as knowledge creators and agents of change rather than objects of research. They share their stories, insights, and aspirations through various qualitative methods such as focus groups, healing circles, town hall meetings, African ceremonies, and community dialogues.
The Afrocentric dialogic approach recognizes the importance of incorporating the perspectives and experiences of the African diaspora community in research. This approach promotes a more equitable and collaborative research process that can lead to more culturally relevant and effective interventions for African diaspora communities.
The Afrocentric dialogic approach differs from traditional Western-centric research methods in several ways:
The Afrocentric dialogic approach is fundamentally different from traditional Western-centric research methods. This approach acknowledges African people’s historical and contemporary oppression and resistance, a perspective that Western-centric research often overlooks or diminishes. Furthermore, the Afrocentric dialogic approach values of African people’s indigenous knowledge and cultural capital, in contrast to Western-centric research methods, which often dismiss or appropriate this knowledge.
In the Afrocentric dialogic approach, participants are empowered to define their own problems and solutions rather than external agendas or frameworks being imposed upon them. This is a marked departure from traditional Western-centric research methods, which tend to place researchers in positions of power and often ignore the needs and experiences of the people being studied.
In addition, the Afrocentric dialogic approach promotes community capacity building and intergenerational healing. Instead of creating dependency or division, this approach seeks to bring together elders and youth to share their experiences, stories, and aspirations in ways that promote healing and collaboration. Through methods such as focus groups, healing circles, town hall meetings, African ceremonies, and community dialogues, the youth are regarded as knowledge creators and agents of change rather than mere objects of research.
The Necessity of an Afrocentric dialogic approach when researching African diaspora communities
An Afrocentric dialogic approach is necessary when researching African diaspora communities because it centres on African people’s lived experiences and perspectives. Afrocentricity utilizes African philosophies, history, and culture as a starting place for interpreting social and psychological phenomena to create relevant approaches to personal, family, and community healing and societal change. This approach is grounded in African history and culture and tells the story of African peoples’ life experiences and life chances from their perspective.
Afrocentric research tools build on various qualitative methods such as focus groups, healing circles, town hall meetings, African ceremonies, and community dialogue to access and honour repressed voices. For example, the Youth and Elders in Solidarity research methodology were developed to address the dearth of research on the lived experiences of Black youth in smaller Canadian cities. This approach facilitates the exploration of challenging topics such as marginalization, alienation, and disenfranchisement. It also positions African people as knowledge creators, not objects of research, and ensures cultural safety.
How the Afrocentric Dialogic Approach Fosters Collaboration between Researchers and Communities.
The Afrocentric dialogic approach offers a way to bridge the gap between researchers and their study communities. This approach values active and meaningful participation from community members instead of treating them as passive or peripheral subjects. In addition, it involves respecting and honouring the community’s culture, values, and norms instead of imposing or judging them.
In addition, the Afrocentric dialogic approach builds trust and rapport through dialogic communication rather than relying on formal or distant methods. It involves sharing the research findings and recommendations with the community rather than withholding or misrepresenting them. Finally, this approach supports the community’s efforts to address their issues and aspirations rather than exploiting or abandoning them.
By embracing the Afrocentric dialogic approach, researchers can facilitate a collaborative and respectful relationship with their study communities. Researchers can empower communities to co-create knowledge and work towards their goals through this approach. Overall, this approach can help address African people’s historical and contemporary oppression and resistance and promote their agency and dignity.
Some of the benefits of using an Afrocentric dialogic approach are:
- Increased cultural sensitivity and understanding: The approach enables researchers to learn from and appreciate African people’s diverse and rich cultural heritage rather than imposing or erasing it. It also helps researchers recognize and challenge their biases and assumptions that may hinder their understanding of the community’s realities and perspectives.
- Enhanced research quality and validity: The approach ensures that the research questions, methods, and interpretations are relevant and meaningful to the community rather than irrelevant or harmful. It also increases the trustworthiness and credibility of the research findings and recommendations, as they are co-created and validated by the community members.
- Improved research impact and sustainability: The approach fosters a sense of ownership and empowerment among the community members rather than dependency or disempowerment. It also supports the community’s capacity to act on its issues and aspirations rather than waiting for external solutions or interventions.
- Strengthened community cohesion and resilience: The approach promotes a sense of connection, belonging, and solidarity among the community members rather than isolation, alienation, or division. It also facilitates intergenerational healing and learning as youth and elders share their stories, experiences, and wisdom with each other.
Researchers should adopt an Afrocentric dialogic approach in their studies to ensure that African diaspora communities’ cultural experiences and perspectives are accurately represented and understood.
By: Eric Muhia
Author Image Attribution: Eric Muhia
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