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New open access journal explores Indigenous knowledge


October 23, 2012

by Fred Michah Rynor

Accessing the varied, and often ignored, world of Indigenous history, literature and culture is a main component of a new – and already celebrated – journal created by OISE academics and students.

This fall saw the launch of 'Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society', an online, open-access and peer-reviewed journal which focuses on supporting the resurgence of Indigenous communities, epistemologies and knowledge.

"We realized there was a real gap when it came to publishing critical Indigenous research," states Eric Ritskes, a PhD student in the Social and Equity Studies in Education Program at OISE and one of the project's editors.

"There is simply a lack of spaces to publish the work of those who wish to challenge the status quo through the use of Indigenous knowledges. Certain forms of knowledge have yet to be accepted or studied in depth by universities and colleges because they're dismissed as folklore, fiction or simply stories. We're re-imagining what academic research on these subjects could be and what should be considered scholarly."

The journal has already received a level of success that has taken the editorial team by surprise with over 15,000 visitors to the website since September.

"Not only has this journal had a terrific response from scholars and researchers but we've had almost 10,000 article downloads as well," states Ritskes. "This demonstrates the wide demand for such research -- demand that extends beyond academia to community workers, band councils and organizers.”

The journal's team is working alongside campus groups such as First Nations House as well as Indigenous communities and leaders throughout Toronto and Canada.

"The success of the journal is built on the need for a different kind of critical Indigenous research which isn't currently being accepted throughout much of Western academia," adds Ritskes. “It’s also about connecting discussions around Indigeneity that are individually happening around the globe with little interaction. Over 90 percent of the faculty that we've approached to join with us have accepted and this shows a real necessity for such a journal and the need to re-imagine the possibilities of academic research through the lens of Indigenous methodologies and methods."

One mandate of the journal is to centre articles that show how Indigenous communities are seeking pathways toward decolonization and the editorial board's decision to allow open access to their articles is seen as an effective way to expose students, researchers and academics alike to this line of thought and exploration.

"We want to increase the back-and-forth dialogue and open access allows us to expand the possibilities and impact of this research," Ritskes says. 

Topics in the premiere issue cover Indigeneity around the globe including Australia, Puerto Rico, the United States and Canada as well as ecological degradation, schooling and education, political solidarity and acts of everyday resurgence. The next issue will be released in March 2013.

'Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society' is funded by OISE's Centre for Integrative Anti-Racism Studies.