Using Local Cultural Forms To Talk To Youth In The Global South

Saturday, July 19, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: F204
Oral Presentation
Pam NILAN , University of Newcastle, Australia
This paper uses material from two research projects, one in Fiji and the other in Java, Indonesia, to discuss the value of using local cultural forms of group talking to engage youth in everyday situations. First, although the convention of talanoa as a decolonising methodology has become popular in the Pacific, talanoa refers to storytelling. In Fiji the kind of talking which is closest to a focus group discussion is veivosaki-yaga, which in Fijian literary parlance means ‘worthwhile discussion or conversation’. The term veivosaki connotes a neutral sense of conversation and dialogue rather than storytelling. Yaga literally means ‘useful or worthwhile’. By engaging in veivosaki-yaga, Indigenous Fijian participants are tuned in to a form of communal dialogue that demands their serious consideration and response. It is therefore useful for discussing a range of issues with young Fijians concerned about their future. Second, the cultural convention of nongkrong (sitting around or walking around with friends talking) has started to be recognised by some Indonesian youth researchers as a productive method for gathering data from young people for whom nongkrong is their favoured leisure practice with age peers. Nongkrong is extraordinarily difficult to translate. It is culturally distinctive, but nothing much really happens. In some ways it is like talanoa research in that the silences may be as meaningful as the comments. None of these cultural forms of group talking matches the rigid definition of focus group discussions (FGDs) typically offered by western books on research methodology, yet they are far more culturally appropriate to the everyday lives of young people in these two countries.