When Research is a Dirty Word: Sovereignty and Bicultural Politics in Canada, Australia and New Zealand Ethics Policies
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AbstractUnlike Canada and Australia, New Zealand has not produced a nationwide ethics policy to guide research within indigenous communities. To explain this divergence historical comparative analysis was used to document the manner in which each of these three countries’ ethical frameworks were negotiated. This analysis found that an interplay between the differing use of national-level Indigenous political strategies and the nature of the ‘mainstream’ research oversight institutions unique to each country explained the difference in ethics policy development. In Canada and Australia, what I defined as sovereignty politics aspired to create separate Indigenous space where issues of direct concern to Indigenous communities were brought under Indigenous control and social practices. New Zealand’s bicultural politics focused on Māori gaining a partnership role in the governance over all New Zealand, and by implication, all New Zealand research. In both Canada and Australia, an alignment to Indigenous aspirations of sovereignty politics encouraged the development of separate ethics policy dedicated to research with Indigenous communities. Indigenous ethics policy in Canada and Australia also benefited from centralised research oversight structures that encouraged a single point of ethical negotiation, allowed public health research funders to support Indigenous ethics development, and minimised the influence of ministerial politics. In New Zealand, bicultural aspirations assumed that once Māori gained an equal partnership role that ethics policy development responsive to Māori would follow. This level of partnership never eventuated. Relegated to a junior partnership role, Māori were not in a position to drive ethics policy development. Māori influence was also fragmented across both the health sector and in New Zealand’s tertiary institutions. Unlike Canada or Australia’s centralised research oversight system, New Zealand’s was undermined by unsupportive Ministerial involvement and lacked the benefit of the public health research council’s support. The experience of Canada and Australia, in contrast to that of New Zealand, demonstrates the value of discrete and defendable institutional space dedicated to Indigenous ethical concerns and of centralised research oversight regimes.
TypeThesis or Dissertation