Dealing with discomfort: how to move from theory to action in research ethics?

By Marketta Vuola and Aina Brias Guinart

How do we lift the words on a page that describe how we ought to conduct ourselves, to connect more directly with the intention of those ethical principles and practices in concrete, meaningful ways?”. Bannister (2018)

As PhD students in the early phase of our academic careers we are struggling to address this type of questions in our research projects. Seeking guidance we are reading formal codes of ethics such as the Code of Ethics of the International Society of Ethnobiology. Much has been written on this area particularly on the application of the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (e.g. Medinaceli 2018). Even so, ethical research is much more than a set of rules and codes, and it not restricted to specific practices such as consent forms (Wilmé, at al., 2016). We believe that, if we aim to do research that truly breaks the colonial power dynamics, we need to do it from the earliest steps of the research process. We should carefully consider the power structures that we are producing and reproducing in the decisions we make about our approach, research questions and methods.

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In defense of random

by Aftab Nasir

Suffering originates from the sense of possessing as possession stimulates the fear of loss. The way to achieve knowledge is by being truthful to oneself and feel for others. We insulate, thereby fictionize, our egos with good looking rugs of words that may or may not symbolize the things around me. I am living in my own bubble. Modernity created these bubbles so that the capitalist system could flourish. These bubbles made me self-centered, rendered me disconnected from others that inevitably resulted in alienation. The cure is what Deikman (1982) calls the observing self.

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Voicing Decoloniality

by Sayan Dey

As the physically visible empires of colonialism receded, the metaphysical, invisible empires of coloniality gradually came to the forefront and ideally replaced their predecessors. With the ‘official’ end of colonialism by the end of 20th century, across the Global South and Far East, the colonial subjects (mis)interpreted it as the ultimate end of Euro-centric (or widely West-centric) dominations and the appropriate moment for recuperating their degenerated systems of traditional knowledge production.

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The Black Market of Knowledge Production

Researchers David Mwambari and Arthur Owor question the effect of money in producing knowledge in post-conflict contexts and argue that it restricts independent local research. These insights were developed at the ‘Silent Voices’ workshop at Ghent University, which brought together Ghent-based researchers and a group of researchers, commonly called “research assistants”, from post-conflict and developing regions. The aim of the workshop was to have a profound reflection on the challenges and dynamics of doing research together ‘in (and beyond) the field and resulted in a manifesto and series of blogs with reflections of researchers.

By David Mwambari and Arthur Owor

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Problems of development and “development” as a problem

by Henning Melber and Julia Schöneberg

Right-wing populism remains on the rise, unleashing the brute force of predator capitalism under authoritarian regimes. The temporary vision of promoting social welfare states as a form of good governance has been replaced by new ideologies bordering to a revival of Social Darwinism. White supremacists, populists and nationalists (re-)enter political commanding heights, basing their rule on exclusion and racism. Those concerned about inequality and all forms of discrimination, advocating the rights of the marginalised and disadvantaged, are ridiculed, harassed and increasingly victims of direct, structural and cultural violence. Their struggles for human rights, justice and dignity face an uphill battle. Political repression is mounting. The unsustainable exploitation of the world’s limited resources as integral part of a growth paradigm is once again accelerated.

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[How do we “know” the world Series] Preventing War. Shaping Peace? Epistemic Violence and Conflict Studies

by Franziska Sopha

Working on questions of violence and violent conflict in International Relations has turned out to be a deeply confusing and sometimes daunting undertaking for me, especially after my last experience as a research assistant in Dakar, Senegal. I was working for International Crisis Group, a self-designated “independent organisation working to prevent wars and shape policies that will build a more peaceful world”. Based on local and international press and reports, interviews with local contact persons and statistics, I wrote reports and commentaries on security related issues in different West African countries. Very often I wondered: who was I to come from France and (re)produce knowledge on violent attacks in Mali, Boko Haram in Nigeria or elections in Sierra Leone and to present this knowledge as a portrayal of the current circumstances in a country that I had never been to, knowing that my work would be used to justify and legitimate political action by certain powerful actors.

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[How do we “know” the World Series] Does the Co-Production of Knowledge Work? Experiences from a Cross-Site Teaching Project between the Universities of Pretoria and Düsseldorf

by Witold Mucha and Christina Pesch

Knowledge (re-)production, especially in the field of the social sciences, is a social process of discourse and debate, of speech and response. However, 500 years of (Western) colonial expansion have made a lasting impact. Today’s debate is both epistemically and ontologically shaped by Anglo-American and European perspectives (Ndlovu-Gatshenis 2018; Spivak 2004; Ziai 2015). Though, concepts of epistemic violence and injustice relate existing (power) asymmetries in knowledge (re-)production not solely to prevailing (Western) perspectives, concepts, and terminologies but to blind spots where existing knowledge is ignored, neglected, or even destroyed (Brunner 2018; Mignolo 2009). This applies not only to what is categorised, constructed, and perceived as knowledge (thinking) but also to the distinct ways how knowledge is disseminated (talking).

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What is Wrong with the Foundations of Education in a Pluriverse? A Personal Account

by Victor Nweke

The call to decolonize institutions of learning both in terms of the composition of the curricula and the facilitators (teachers) is now an issue even in Europe, the United Kingdom, North-America, and Australia. Prior to the 21st century, the call was predominantly made by intellectuals and students from colonized nations, of which Africa is part. But, what is wrong with the foundations of education? What is sustaining it? Why is it difficult to undo? These questions can be and have been coughed and approached in different ways by different scholars. I choose to address them from my intersubjective experiences as a human being, an interconnected individual member of the Igbo nation, a citizen of a country known as Nigeria.

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Challenges to EU Development Policy: Paradigm Lost or Stretched?

by Sarah Delputte and Jan Orbie

European Union (EU) development policy seems plagued by many challenges from within and outside. We argue that underlying these challenges lay more fundamental problems with the Eurocentric, modernist and colonial paradigm of EU development policy. We witness some cracks in the pillars of the current paradigm, namely in the form of policy failures, epistemic changes, and power shifts. However, this seems unlikely to entail radical paradigm change. Instead of moving in the direction of post-development, we merely observe experimental approaches stretching the prevailing paradigm.

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