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The Roots of Inclusion with Victor Udoewa

We hear a lot about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but you probably haven’t heard it like this. Nigerian-born Victor Udoewa, service design lead at the Centers for Disease Control’s Office of Public Health Data, Surveillance, and Technology, brings a beautiful perspective that challenges current research methodologies.

Victor introduces the notion of the pluriverse, emphasizing that people inhabit different worlds with unique ways of being and knowing. He draws attention to the diverse perspectives that shape people’s beliefs and understanding, emphasizing the importance of acknowledging and bridging these gaps.

He also uses a tree as a metaphor, in which the roots are ways of being, the trunk ways of knowing, and the branches and leaves are methodologies and methods. The metaphor suggests that inclusive research should not just focus on the green parts of the tree but what’s underneath the surface, getting to the very roots of being.

Recognizing the limitations of mainstream research toolkits and critiquing methodologies grounded in Western ways of being, Victor proposes that truly inclusive research goes far beyond having diverse teams study diverse audiences.

This episode is just a taste of Victor’s talk at the upcoming in-person Advancing Research Conference, “Beyond Methods and Diversity: The Roots of Inclusion.”

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The Pluriverse Concept: The idea that the world comprises multiple realities, ways of being, and existences
  • Standpoint Theory: The idea that individuals at the bottom of a social hierarchy possess a knowledge that is inaccessible to those at higher levels
  • Victor’s Tree Metaphor: Roots symbolize ways of being, the trunk represents ways of knowing, and branches and leaves denote methodologies and methods
  • Radical Participatory Research: Allowing research to emerge organically from the ways of being of the community involved

Quick Reference Guide:
[00:10] Meet Victor Udoewa
[02:16] About Victor’s talk at Advancing Research
[04:26] The pluriverse and asymmetry of knowledge
[11:20] Social hierarchy, ways of being, and methodology
[12:52] The tree metaphor – getting to the roots
[22:20] Research starting with a way of being
[26:47] Cultural individualism on research
[33:02] Victor’s gift for listeners

Resources and Links from Today’s Episode:
Songlines by Bruce Chatwin
Decolonizing Methodologies by Linda Tuhiwai Smith
Advancing Research 2024, New York City, March 25-27, 2024