Addressing Contextual Challenges in Underserved Indigenous Spaces of the Global South: In Search of an Approach Based on Unlearning, Co-Learning, and Relearning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Qualitative scholars are increasingly arguing in favor of bridging the gap between emic and etic knowledge as well as to become critically reflexive while conducting research, especially in the underserved contexts. Conducting qualitative research in marginalized spaces of the global South often poses unique challenges. In this case, my research took place in rural eastern India where some of the challenges faced were my ethnocentrism and preconceived baggage, trust building challenges, and situated communicative and structural barriers. My field research experiences taught me the importance of unlearning, co-learning, and relearning to meaningfully engage with the underserved populations and their realities. Unlearning involves critically examining our previously acquired knowledge/assumptions toward exploring purviews and avenues for new learning. Co-learning is a process of collaborative learning with and in grassroots communities toward cocreating culturally meaningful knowledge and opening up avenues for social equality. Intertwined with unlearning and co-learning, the relearning efforts are focused on gaining and embodying new knowledge or ways of seeing. Grounded in the examples from my field research experiences, this article discusses the roles and significance of unlearning, co-learning, and relearning in conducting qualitative research in the underserved context of the global South.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2019



  • co-learning
  • India
  • indigenous
  • relearning
  • unlearning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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