Accepted paper:

Trying to disrupt habits of research collaboration: Critical learning narrative on co-authorship between European and African academics


Tiina Kontinen (University of Jyväskylä)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing from the notions of habit and disruption the paper critically analyses a process of producing an edited volume in collaboration between the European and African academics.

Paper long abstract:

One of the most frequently mentioned manifestations of the asymmetrical relationships in research collaboration between African and European academics is a failure to produce joint international publications. The paper critically reflects a process of co-authoring an edited volume on practices of citizenship in development research to be published by one of the most renowned publishers by the end of 2019. The edited volume reports findings of a collaborative research project of Tanzanian, Ugandan and Finnish academics. The project draws from philosophical pragmatism and especially John Dewey's ideas concerning learning as reformulation of habits. Consequently, the critical learning narrative draws from the pragmatist notions of habit and disruption, and analyses how the prevalent habits of asymmetrical knowledge production emerge in practice in the different stages of the process - from initiating the research idea to its implementation - and especially in co-authoring an edited volume. It also discusses the practical attempts such as employing African postdocs and conducting joint writing retreats through which we tried to present disruptions to the prevailing habits exercised by all participants in the process, and reflects what kinds of reformulation of habits took place during the process. Based on the self-reflective learning narrative the paper proposes that addressing the attempt to 'decolonize' academic knowledge production, in addition to political goals, one has to scrutinize the everyday practices and often institutionalized, challenges of academics both in global north and south.

panel Anth02
Hierarchies of knowledge production in academic collaborations between Africa and Europe [Panel of the Association for the Anthropology of Social Change and Development - APAD]