Panel 28

Knowledge Production and Decolonization in African and Development Studies

Panel organiser: Henning Melber, Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden and EADI.


Global knowledge production is still characterized by asymmetries and non-reciprocal relations between the hegemonic global North and its eurocentrism since the era of enlightenment and the so-called global South. Institutions of higher learning as well as research reproduce to a large extent the perceptions and criteria for academic relevance and value as well as knowledge and its production shaped in this history. This is obviously so also the case in African and Development Studies, despite their focus mainly on Southern societies. Current efforts, i.a. by the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) seek to interrogate such practices and mindsets.

This panel is linked to the EADI agenda. It engages with the definition of knowledge and the nature and role of research related activities reproducing paradigms and realities, thereby often at risk to reaffirm the reproduction of one-dimensional perspectives. It seeks to explore alternatives both for a re-assessment of knowledge and its production and dissemination, to counteract the long-established and internalized hegemonic power of definition by predominantly Northern agencies and scholars. It invites contributions engaging with challenges facing genuine research collaboration and knowledge production in a North-South interaction, mapping asymmetries generally and in African realities specifically. It also invites for thoughts on how these limitations might be reduced or eliminated in favour of a truly joint effort towards partnership and mutual respect and recognition as integral part of African Studies. Special attention should be given to the variety of views from within the African continent and African scholars elsewhere engaged in related debates.

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