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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[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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[How do we “know” the World Series] Problems of Research Partnerships: Who Learns from Whom in Conflict Transformation Processes?

by Nora Schröder und Michaela Zöhrer

We are increasingly confronted with the imperatives of partnership and relationships at eye level. Such normative claims are needed precisely because equality and symmetrical relationships are not a fact but rather a promise. We need them as a moral compass which indicates variations from the norm in order to fight for more equality and justice alike. However, in collective processes of knowledge production like research or teaching differences and asymmetries are key. We state that they are not only constitutive but can also be turned into learning potentials.

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[How Do We Know The World Series] Knowing The World? Navigating Asymmetries of Power through a Politics and Praxis of Care

by Siti Maimunah and Enid Still

“How do we know the world?” It is a difficult and multi-layered question. Yet it enticed us, two colleagues, women from the global north and south respectively, to collaborate and reflect upon our journeys as researchers, activists and now as fellow PhD students. Reflection upon our experiences, Enid as a researcher in India and Mai as an activist in Indonesia, brought together very particular understandings of the intimate power relations between the participant and researcher – how power manifests, how it is inscribed upon our bodies, and how people resist or attempt to counteract power in different ways. Continue reading “[How Do We Know The World Series] Knowing The World? Navigating Asymmetries of Power through a Politics and Praxis of Care”

[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Looking Back to Walk Forward: Decolonisation as Self-Determination

by Vanessa Bradbury

Aotearoa, the long white cloud. A vast country secluded by ocean; a depth of ecological beauty with rolling hills of green, empowering mountains that cut through soft white clouds; rivers, lakes and oceans that flow with the crisp, clean air; sunsets that radiate the surroundings with a peachy gentleness; long roads and vast land; a silence that fills the void with reflection.

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[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Why does the question matter? – Reflections from the Workshop

by Lata Narayanaswamy and Julia Schöneberg

In our one-day workshop we aimed to overcome academic “silos” and connect scholars from diverse fields in the social and natural sciences. Surprisingly, or probably not so, we quickly realized that struggles, discomforts and contestations were very similar among us regardless of whether our discipline is Peace Studies, Agro-Forestry, History, International Relations, Development or Political Studies or Educational Sciences. The true challenge for our workshop was to reflect not only on how we “know” the world, but also why this question matters and what are the implications for us as teachers, researchers and practitioners, committed to challenging entrenched power imbalances or fighting for social justice.

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[How Do We “Know” the World Series] Part I: How can we “know” the world – and reflect on it academically?

by Lata Narayanaswamy

This post is the start of a series of reflections on critical scholarship contributed by participants of the workshop “How do we know the world” . The workshop is co-organised by Lata Narayanaswamy and Julia Schöneberg.

How do we ‘know’ the world? It is so vast a question that it feels, perhaps ironically, almost unknowable. Yet this question is not a call to take an inventory of specific facts or perspectives, but is asked in order to help frame a more critical and reflexive approach to the assumptions that underpin academic perceptions of WHAT counts as knowledge, HOW we capture and communicate that knowledge and WHO gets to both shape and present ideas as academic (read: expert) knowledge. Taken together, these reflections can, we believe, be very revealing. Whilst this should be a question we ask ourselves across all disciplines, our focus here is specifically on how this set of questions has begun to creep into the mainstream of the broader social sciences.

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