Accepted paper:

Negotiating research opportunities in African contexts: Between extraversion and endogenous knowledge production


Stefan Skupien (WZB Berlin Social Science Center)

Paper short abstract:

I suggest using the analysis of "changing governance and authority relations" (Whitley 2011) to describe forms of "scientific extraversion" (Hountondji 1978). This approach links the knowledge production to negotiation-processes between different stakeholders in African contexts.

Paper long abstract:

Public and private, national and international donors design programmes and shape the directions research and knowledge production should take. This includes the provision for infrastructure but also aligning project grants and scholarships to specific performance goals. Funding can focus on curiosity driven long-term research in astronomy and high-particle physics or on development-oriented goals with short-term effects for public goods and commercial outputs. In my contribution I propose to focus on the "changing governance and authority relations" (Whitley 2011) of public funding in African states as a process of negotiation to shed light on the politics of knowledge production. The approach has been developed to describe the change in public sciences in OECD-contexts and identifies a number of actors that negotiate the directions of funding and knowledge production. These include state bureaucracies, inter/national and scientific elites, and commercial stakeholders. I argue that changing authority relations can also be applied to describe African and other non-OECD science systems. Moreover, it helps to analyze the mechanisms of "scientific extraversion", which the Beninese Paulin Hountondji has carved out (Hountondji 1978, 1990). Empirical examples of inter/national funding programmes illustrates the point of how state ministries set performance goals along national development plans and how international (African) scientific elites are attracting funds for scientific infrastructures to improve the opportunities for African researchers. The round table contribution should, however, help to transcend Whitley's approach and ask for the limits of its OECD-focus.

panel Pol43
The politics of funding knowledge production in Africa