Māori ways-of-being : addressing cultural disruption through everyday socio-cultural practices of [re]connection : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand
Within the discipline of psychology, many Indigenous scholars have endeavoured to rethink and re-theorise the foundations, focus, and methods used in an effort to construct psychologies that are more reflective of their own cosmologies and contexts. The presented thesis contributes to this Indigenous project by exploring the ways in which the ruling psychology of our times, and its underlying philosophical assumptions, can disrupt Indigenous peoples’ attempts to articulate our own understandings of being. Drawing on emic and etic approaches and grounded within Kaupapa Māori approach, this thesis engages with the complexities of what it means to be Māori today through two theoretically (chapters 2 and 3) and two community-based publications (chapters 4 and 5). In the first article (chapter 2), I decentre the dominance of ruling psychology by challenging the idea of a single disciplinary space within the discipline and introduce the notion of multiple sphericules that carry numerous cultural philosophical perspectives that combine to make up the discipline of psychology. Building on these ideas in the second article (chapter 3), I contribute to efforts to theorize Māori ways-of-being by drawing on Māori cultural understandings and associated literature, ideas from the European continental philosophical tradition, and personal reflections. Taken together, chapters 2 and 3 carve out conceptual space within psychology that is then explored through culturally immersive and auto-ethnographic techniques in chapters 4 and 5. Specifically, chapter 4 is set within the context of the low socio-economic urban landscape in which I grew up. Chapter 5 speaks more to issues of [re]connecting with ancestral homelands, communities, and ways-of-being. In chapters 4 and 5, I document how Māori cultural selves are preserved amidst histories of colonization and urbanization by paying particular attention to the role of culturally-patterned social practices evident in the conduct of everyday life. Overall, this thesis contributes to present understandings of the ongoing development of Māori subjectivities that often shift in response to the socio-cultural conditions and structural inequalities that many of our communities continue to face. This thesis provides some insights into how urban Māori, such as myself, construct and reproduce novel, creative, and culturally grounded strategies for dealing with the disruptions that have come with colonization. These efforts work to strengthen and preserve cultural connectedness and distinct Māori ways-of-being.