English Ph.D. Dissertations


Theorizing a Settlers' Approach to Decolonial Pedagogy: Storying as Methodologies, Humbled, Rhetorical Listening and Awareness of Embodiment

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


English/Rhetoric and Writing

First Advisor

Andrea Riley-Mukavetz (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Daniel Bommarito (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Lee Nickoson (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Irina Stahkanova (Other)


In this dissertation entitled, “Theorizing A Settlers’ Approach To Decolonial Pedagogy: Storying As Methodologies, Humbled, Rhetorical Listening And Awareness Of Embodiment,” I outline a set of pedagogical practices for settlers to enact in their classrooms. The purpose of this project was to investigate options for decolonial pedagogical practices, examining how a non indigenous or settler version of decolonial pedagogy may require a different approach. My primary argument is that varieties of decolonial pedagogical practices must be allowed to exist rather than attempting to homogenize or present formulaic methods. Failure to do so enacts and re-inscribes colonialist practices that attempt to homogenize a complex concept and construct a universal narrative, discounting embodied differences. Instead, I contend that the embodied experience(s) of the educators, specifically in all variations of culture, influence interpretations and applications of decoloniality to pedagogical practices. I also contend that that if settler or non-indigenous educators wish to employ the term decoloniality in scholarship, enact decolonial pedagogy, and consider their work to be decolonial in nature, then they must first engage in rhetorical listening, humility and self-reflexivity with people of color, learning about issues of sovereignty and how settler colonialism affects certain bodies differently than others. I further urge settlers in the field of Rhetoric and Composition, who wish to use the term decolonial, to listen to, learn from, and honor indigenous methods through active relationships and community membership, and to avoid cultural appropriation or false allyship. Finally, I argue that story as methodology that is genuinely decolonial in nature must revere storying and extend those practices to all professional roles—that of researcher, scholar, community member, and teacher. Drawing from indigenous rhetorics and storied interviews with three self-identified indigenous educators and three self-identified non-indigenous educators, I practice rhetorical listening to the participants’ accounts, focusing on their backgrounds, teaching values and pedagogical practices. After transcribing the interviews, I enact story as methodology, to constellate themes from the participants’ stories. I also draw from situational analysis, using mapping as a method of organization in constellating the themes. This methodology is intentional as it reflects an indigenous research paradigm. This dissertation responds to the arguments of Tuck and Wang (2012), who caution against using decolonization as a metaphor and takes up the challenge in considering how settlers may engage in decolonial work. Ultimately, this project provides the discipline of Rhetoric and Composition with a language surrounding decoloniality and maps out a series of considerations that settlers may take before applying the term decoloniality and decolonization to their scholarship and to their teaching.