Africa - in 800 or 8000 words
(University of South Africa)
Paper short abstract:
While training in research skills and academic is imperative, short-form writing, such as the 800-word Op-Ed piece in a national newspaper, instead of the 8000-word journal article, is an important skill in its own right, but also critical for enhancing academic knowledge about Africa.
Paper long abstract:
The reach and impact of academic writing from Africa about Africa for itself, and not primarily for Europe and North America, remains a challenge. But writing Africa well, meaning writing about Africa without surrendering to the seduction of (re)producing simplistic narratives about the continent, within a global economy of knowledge that might prefer precisely such narratives, is an even greater challenge. How then might we increase the magnitude, richness and influence of academic writing from across Africa about Africa? While training in research skills, academic writing, editing, and developing academic publishing spaces is of course imperative, I propose that short-form writing, such as the 800-word Op-Ed piece in a national newspaper, instead of the 8000-word journal article, is an important skill in its own right, but also for enhancing academic knowledge. Academics writing Africa well in newspapers about their research and arguments is as important for knowledge production, I will submit, and perhaps, sometimes even more important, than publishing in an academic journal as more intense discussions within society, and thus potentially greater influence, result from an Op-Ed than from a journal article.
Connecting people through academic writing - how to bridge the gap? [Roundtable]