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Essay on the Role of Storytelling and Counter-Storytelling

3 pages
624 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
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According to Merriweather-Hunn, Guy, & Mangliitz (2006), storytelling remains one of the most powerful tools which can be used to create meaning and also challenge myths. Some scholars define counter-storytelling as a method of telling stories of the marginalized individuals such as the gays, the poor, women, and people of color among others (Merriweather-Hunn, Guy & Mangliitz, 2006). In other words, they are narrations which stand in opposition to the stories of the dominant, referred to as the majoritarians.

Critical race theory (CRT) scholars use counter-storytelling to contradict how racists characterize social life. Moreover, counter-storytelling exposes the race-neutral discourse, revealing the manner in white privilege operates within a given framework of ideology so as to continue unfair societal relations between the people of color and the whites (Merriweather-Hunn, Guy & Mangliitz, 2006). Majoritarian or the dominance stories tend to privilege middle or upper social class, the Whites, men, and heterosexuals by referring to these social points as the normative positions of reference.

As the critical race theorists document there are three types of counter-stories. These include; composite stories, other peoples stories or narrations, and personal stories (Merriweather-Hunn, Guy & Mangliitz, 2006). Composite stories are a representation of gathering together, accumulation, and synthesis of several personal stories. Other peoples stories, however, possess the power to move. In other words, they are mobile stories and in case they are retold, they tend to take a greater than life quality. Normally, what starts as a particular, personal experience acquires validation as it is being re-told. Finally, personal stories are made up of direct reports of experiences, usually of the people of color, as well as how they face the challenge of racial discrimination, injury, disadvantage, insult, or injury.

Counter-storytelling has two aspects which include; cultural sensitivity and theoretical sensitivity (Merriweather-Hunn, Guy & Mangliitz, 2006). Cultural sensitivity is defined as the ability of people as members of a socio-historical society, to precisely read and understand the meaning intended by the informants. On the other hand, theoretical sensitivity is the special capacity and insight of the researcher to understand and give data meaning.

Features of a Study Reflecting a Decolonization of Mainstream Methodologies

For a long period of time, indigenous communities have been forced to experience exploitation by researchers (Simonds & Christopher, 2013). As a result, this has caused an increased requirement for participatory and decolonization of research processes or methodologies. In most cases, decolonizing research need a constant reflective action as well as attention although published guidance for this process lacks (Simonds & Christopher, 2013). Continued explorations are thus required to implement indigenous method singly or together with appropriate Western processes whenever research is conducted in the Indigenous communities. In the contemporary research world, the Indigenous theories and methods are not widely published in books, articles or other research materials, hence not perceived as valid (Simonds & Christopher, 2013).

To rectify the narrative of health inequalities, it has been recognized by researchers to build true partnerships between them and the communities (Simonds & Christopher, 2013). Various concerns have been voiced by the researchers and Indigenous communities emphasizing on the true value of partnerships and to instill balance between Western and Indigenous frameworks and methods and through decolonization of research (Simonds & Christopher, 2013). Quite often, indigenous knowledge is depicted as being in current use, alive, and orally transmitted. Indigenous knowledge is, therefore, that which can be generalized since indigenous knowledge of one group can be useful to another population (Simonds & Christopher, 2013). Tremendous literature is available about indigenous knowledge documented mainly from the perspective of Indigenous people.


Merriweather Hunn, L. R., Guy, T. C., & Mangliitz, E. (2006). Who can speak for whom? Using counter-storytelling to challenge racial hegemony.

Simonds, V. W., & Christopher, S. (2013). Adapting Western research methods to indigenous ways of knowing. American journal of public health, 103(12), 2185-2192.

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