Christine M. Ami
Thoughts on negating the value of dissertations in literature reviews.
If you do a google search on "are dissertations a scholarly source" you will find subtext such as from Walden who claims:
It's an honest discussion that I have had with my colleagues, evening fighting back about the mantra of "a done dissertation is the best dissertation." As an Indigenous scholar who works with and in Indigenous communities - if the "R's" of Indigenous research are part of your framework, then that statement doesn't apply to you. Your dissertation or thesis, especially if you are working with communities (regardless if they are Indigenous or not) is a reflection of the relationships that you have established and are striving to maintain. Are you just done with them because you are done with your written body of work? Your findings are significant to them and they too deserve closure. Done isn't a closure. Solid research with reported findings and continued relationships with the community are. And with your defense and submission of your committee approved thesis/dissertation, your community now also encompasses the academic community; so you should be prepared for your work to be engaged by your new peers and they should be ready to engage yours. The relationship doesn't end with that submission.
Now, this is not to say that I feel that my dissertation is in perfect condition; if it were, I would not be doing editing - my grammar, Chicago format, and sentence structures are cringe worthy at times. Not to mention, that I have grown so much since that 2016 Proquest publication that the time away from that written body of work has helped me to rethink my findings in a new, perhaps more mature light. But I don't devalue the findings, stories, and relationships from that writing, even if contemporary research conducted by myself or others have complicated those initial results. As I am in the editing process, I find my self writing about my dissertation as the 1st edition. My book publishing will be the 2nd edition with updates and a new voice, one that is grounded in storytelling instead of ensuring that I include a worldly breath of written works on the topic as presented in my "unique" literature review or of my statistical "brilliance" through presentations of equations (j/k but they are solid in the dissertation 😂😝😜).
Returning to my thoughts on published dissertations and theses, I honestly ask for academics, new, junior, and senior scholars, to do a run through on your topic in Proquest. With the growing number of Indigenous authored projects, keep in mind that not all of us have the desire, resources, or time to transition our dissertations into a book manuscript or article publishings. YET - the research, the data, the revelations from cultural, scholarly grounded perspectives may rock your world, or at least, your project. You may be astounded at the high level of the Indigenous critical inquiry stemming from our youth. Don't discredit the value of our black sheep resource - dissertations by Indigenous authors who are culturally grounded.
With that, I wanted to highlight some black sheep that I incorporate in my book project from Navajo scholars. And if you know of more, comment below... building a herd of black sheep requires some help 🐑🐑🐑🐑:
Wade Campbell (2021) Na’nilkad bee na’niltin – Learning from Herding: An Ethnoarchaeological Study of Historic Pastoralism on the Navajo Nation, KIVA, 87:3, 295-315, DOI: 10.1080/00231940.2021.1893456
Lister, Andee Rose (2018) The bioaccumulation of uranium in sheep heart and kidney: the impact of contaminated traditional food sources on the Navajo Reservation. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.
There is a brilliance in these black sheep sources that merit recognition in our literature reviews and critical evaluations of questions at hand. Ahe'hee' nitsáago, shidiné - t'áá awołí bee iniłta. --- yeah...you, I am talking to you
Just a Tách'inii thinking out loud about butchering, researching, manuscript writing, and life on the Navajo reservation.