Dr. Robert Adlam
Fish Talk: Research Technique and Experiential Learning Tools
My methodological approach employs qualitative research techniques and experiential learning tools in a community-based setting. A conference paper and a conference workshop are recent products of this approach. The conference paper reports on work undertaken among aboriginal fishers of the Miramichi river of northern New Brunswick. The conference workshop draws on extensive experience with oral performance narrative and its value to community members as well as researchers in offering important glimpses into the dynamics of community life.
The conference paper entitled: The Discourse of an Aboriginal Fishery (Adlam, 2000) draws on an extensive collection of recorded interviews with Aboriginal fishers conducted over the course of three summers of fieldwork. Here particular attention is given to the discourse of these fishers, taken to mean their 'talk' about the fishery. Indeed it is through such discourse that the fishery is at once created and transformed reflecting in part past practice based on family gill net operations, and in more recent years, the experience of a highly regulated and waged trap net operation. But this discourse is far from static or necessarily clear-cut. In fact it provides ample evidence of shifts and ambiguity depending on the circumstances. However, it is also more than just 'talk' about the fishery since it is constitutive of actions and decisions made in the fishery. What emerges from an analysis of such material in this instance are two competing discourses, one emerging out of the Aboriginal Fishery Strategy (AFS) process, while the other speaks to an unencumbered aboriginal right with respect to traditional waters. As well, I think it significant that each contains a critique of the other's position. Broadly, then, the paper contributes to our understanding of the discursive construction of economy especially as this relates to the practices of aboriginal riverine fishers.
The conference workshop entitled: Drama as Our Lives: Oral Performance Narrative and Indigenous Skills Development was delivered at the Conference on Participatory Development held last August at the University of Ottawa (Adlam, 1999). It draws on oral performance narrative and dramatic technique as experiential learning tools well suited to the task of community-based research. It is collaborative and transformative, offering opportunities for growth and change. As developed through the three-hour workshop, drama is used to transform the stories of participants into action. The source of these stories are typically the experiences they share with others in their communities. Transforming these stories into dramatic events means looking more closely at the nature of their interpersonal relationships and at their communities more generally. For researchers, these dramatic events offer important glimpses into the dynamics of community life. For participants, scripting their stories for dramatic purposes is at once instructive and reflective offering opportunities for growth and change. As such, the workshop offered an opportunity for community development researchers, educators and activists to explore ways of facilitating community participation in a wide array of activities, programmes, and issues. By means of small group activities, participants learned how to set up a project using drama, scripting and performance technique.
Research Design: Choice of design entails three main factors
Initial tasks in creating a research design ...
More technical considerations ...
Guidelines for Informed Consent
The aboriginal communities of the Miramichi river of northern New Brunswick entered into AFS [Aboriginal Fishery Strategy] agreements in 1992. Although these agreements have brought Miramichi Mi'kmaq into the regulatory and management process, providing training and employment as well as commercial possibilities, concerns continue to be expressed about the equitable distribution of these benefits within the aboriginal communities and the overall effect of these agreements on 'existing' aboriginal and treaty rights.
This exercise uses a Picture Narrative to examine issues of social change and possible alternatives in conflict resolution.
The Picture Narrative consists of two parts:
Picture sets (4)