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] Encounters with Theory: (Un)Learning Ways of Knowing

by Zeynep Gülşah Çapan

The manner in which knowledge systems are organized and disciplinary formations are delimited work to delineate who can ‘speak’, who can ‘think’ and who is worthy of being ‘read’ and ‘listened’. It is not that ‘other ways’ of thinking are not present, there is a wide archive of knowledge available if one sheds the self-imposed limitations of what counts as ‘legitimate’ knowledge. The courses I have been teaching at the University of Erfurt have been an exploration into how to ‘unlearn’ ways of knowing and how to discuss issues (whether it is race, colonialism, notion of history) through other vocabularies that are already present but ignored. Over the last two years I have been trying to write syllabuses and design courses that reflect these concerns. As part of this effort, I have taught various courses such as ‘Race and Racism’, ‘Fantasizing International Relations’ and ‘Anticolonial Connectivities’.

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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] The Problem of Postcolonial Historical Research within Colonial Epistemologies and Methodologies

by Rachel Huber

In postcolonial historical research conducted from a Eurocentric perspective, a contradiction has prevailed so far: the majority of research projects are conducted in colonial language and follow partial colonial logic.

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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] Thinking with and not about the Global South – Challenging Eurocentrism in Social Science Research and Teaching

by Sebastian M. Garbe

As a result of political and intellectual efforts, post- and decolonial critiques have become more and more prominent during the last decades, but to counter Eurocentrism within the Social Sciences is still a big challenge. In this contribution, I would like to share some attempts of how I have been dealing with this challenge in my own research and teaching. Both experiences share the idea to decentralize and decolonize the own local context (the city of Giessen on the one, and the European solidarity movement, on the other hand) by confronting it with the history and present of (post)colonial entanglement as well as “epistemologies of the South” (Sousa Santos 2009).

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[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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