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Ancestral knowledge systems: A conceptual framework for decolonizing research in social science

Cueponcaxochitl Dianna Moreno Sandoval, Rosalva Mojica Lagunas, Lydia T. Montelongo, Marisol Juárez Díaz


Building on the seminal work of Linda T. Smith in decolonizing research methodologies, this paper introduces Ancestral Knowledge Systems (AKS) as a conceptual framework for social science research methodologies. We use autoethnography and critical self-reflection throughout the article to make visible the components of AKS. First, we lay out the context in which AKS was re-created after a doctoral course on decolonizing research methodologies. We unpack internalized colonization to address the need to go beyond identity politics and towards AKS thinking as an approach to promote a multiplicity of knowledge systems. Next, we discuss family epistemologies and collective memories as methods for reconnecting accountability systems to ancestral homeland(s). Finally, we discuss our visions for AKS across learning ecologies. The scholarly significance of our research is twofold: (1) it develops a framework for critical introspection and connectivity for decolonizing research, and (2) it promotes a multiplicity of knowledge systems in the academy.

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