Tensions in Anti-colonial Research: Lessons Learned by Collaborating With a Mining-Affected Indigenous Community


  • C. Susana Caxaj
  • Helene Berman
  • Colleen Varcoe
  • Susan L. Ray
  • Jean-Paul Restoule


Community-based nurse researchers strive to develop collaborative partnerships that are meaningful to the health priorities of participants and relevant to their sociopolitical realities. Within the context of global inequity, intersecting forces of privilege and oppression inevitably shape the research process, resulting in tensions, contradictions, and challenges that must be addressed. This article has 3 purposes: to examine the political context of mining corporations, to describe common health threats and challenges faced by mining-affected communities, and to reflect on research with a mining-affected Indigenous community in Guatemala whose health and capacity for self-advocacy are impacted by a legacy of colonialism. Using an anti-colonial lens, the authors discuss 3 central tensions: community agency and community victimhood, common ground and distinct identities, and commitment to outcomes and awareness of limitations. They conclude by offering methodological suggestions for nurse researchers whose work is grounded in anti-colonial perspectives.