Setting Forth At Dawn
A Workshop on the
Geopolitics and Practices of Writing and Publishing in Africa
16 – 20 May 2016 / 8 -12 Genbot 2008
Hosted by the
College of Law & Governance
in collaboration with the
Office of the Vice President for Research & Community Services
Jimma University, ጅማ Ethiopia
There is a considerable body of critical work on, in, and from Africa and with African perspectives. However, too often intersecting material, ideological, linguistic, financial, and political circumstances exclude African knowledges from global or transnational knowledge exchanges. A global academic publication gap and the unequal “right to research” (Appadurai 2006) that establishes the hegemony of Anglophone scholars based in the North—(and with it, the assumption of expertise for policy-making and socio-economic projections)—is a persistent continuation of post/coloniality.
The intricately intersecting barriers of language, geography, politics, place, epistemology, and ontology create and intensify these uneven geographies of global publication. Scholars on the continent face political and economic barriers, including, for example, strict travel restrictions in the racialized global political economy, or assiduous coloniality (Mignolo 2011). The publication gap has the effect of silencing southern epistemologies and ontological commitments and reinforcing the domination of Euro-American-based epistemologies, ontologies, and critical theories. The geopolitics of knowledge creation—who creates knowledge, from which spaces, with which theoretical perspectives, and for which political ends—remains uneven and unequal across gendered, racialized, linguistic, and geographical lines.
An analysis of the 9500 journals included in the Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports (JCR) database reveals a striking global publication gap: The US and the UK publish more indexed journals than the rest of the world combined and Switzerland publishes more than the entire African continent (Graham 2014). At the same time, African people, places, and knowledges constitute the primary data for hundreds of thousands of articles published annually by social scientists. As V. Y. Mudimbe (1988) explains, “Africa” is first invented and subsequently colonized as a subject for theory.
Much remains to be done to overcome these inequalities in academic and intellectual visibility and power. This workshop attempts to contribute to ongoing efforts to fill the publication gap by focusing on the practices, energies, and environments of publishing for scholars in the social scientists and humanities working from the south. There is work to be done to create the platforms and conditions so that scholarship of continent-based scholars continues to reach local audiences and then global audiences; to contribute to critical transnational discussions; and to “talk back” (hooks 1989) or “research back” (Smith 1999) in an historical context of “social science as imperialism” (Ake 1979). At the same time, the neoliberalism (that is to say, the isolating of scholars, the devaluing of collaboration, the rise in tuition costs, the decline in professor salary, the withdrawal of the state from the educational sector) and the corporatization (that is to say, the rearranging of universities to fit the priorities of external donor communities, where knowledge is valued for its ability to fulfill the needs of the corporate sector as a lack of funding creates an increasingly competitive landscape) of universities—in and outside of Africa—necessitates the development of spaces to cultivate radical alternatives (Mamdani 2012; Kigoto 2015). How might we continue to create reading, writing, and publishing cultures within spaces along and below the equator?
Call for Abstracts
Towards these ends, we invite abstracts of 300 to 400 words for interdisciplinary, critical, and rigorously challenging original research papers in the social sciences, humanities and social legal studies from scholars who have not yet published in international peer-reviewed academic journals. We look for participants who are interested in new ways of thinking about how to cultivate reading and writing cultures in southern communities that are also global, including papers that emphasize, for example, speaking across and within spaces of the south and/or articles that focus on the relationship between law, society, and critical development studies. The workshop will present opportunities to create alliances between scholars and practitioners across disciplines.
Forty selected scholars will be invited to participate in the intensive writing workshop in Jimma, Ethiopia from 16 to 20 May 2016/ 8 -12 Genbot 2008. The workshop—which will be facilitated by academics with experience writing, reviewing, and serving as members of academic journal editorial boards—is an intensive writing workshop designed to assist scholars who have not previously published in academic journals with sessions on (i) practical matters associated with academic publishing (guides to writing journal cover letters and responding to reviews); (ii) the publication process, expectations, and landscape; (iii) researching jargon, specialized vocabulary, and keeping up-to-date on academic literatures; (iv) and detailed advice for getting an original article manuscript submitted for publication. The objective is to assist the writers in generating a completed and submission-ready draft of their article by the conclusion of the workshop.
We welcome the participation of African scholars working outside of Jimma as well as outside of Ethiopia. While we have not yet secured funds for travel-related bursaries, our organizing committee is actively seeking such opportunities and we are happy to write letters of support for confirmed participants so that they may seek funding through their own departments. For updates on travel funding, please send inquiries to email@example.com
Participants must be university faculty members with Masters degrees or above. Applicants are to submit a brief cover letter detailing academic discipline, education level, current affiliation and publication record along with their proposed article abstract. As the motivation for this particular workshop is to assist scholars in developing critical tools for academic publication, we prioritize scholars with no international, peer-reviewed academic publications.
- Dr. Patricia Daley, School of Geography & the Environment, University of Oxford
- Dr. Maimuna Islam, Department of English, The College of Idaho
- Dr. Wassie Kebede, School of Social Work, Addis Ababa University
- Dr. Tesfaye Gebeyehu, Editor-in-Chief of the Ethiopian Journal of Social Sciences and Language Studies and Coordinator of Research and Postgraduate Studies of College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Jimma University
- Dr. Janine Ubink, School of Law, University of California Irvine
- Dr. Amber Murrey-Ndewa, Department of Governance & Development Studies, Jimma University
- Ms. Safia Adid, Creator of the #CadaanStudies Conversation and PhD Candidate in History, Harvard University
With 87 million people (2010), Ethiopia is the second most populous country on the continent. Within Africa, five countries dominate the continent in terms of research production: Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa but the substantial prioritization of education currently underway in Ethiopia seeks to place the country at the forefront for knowledge creation on the continent. Indeed, from 2000 to 2011, the number of universities in Ethiopia grew from 2 to 31 and total enrollment in graduate programs increased 300 per cent in less than five years (Yigezu 2013). During this time, the educational landscape has shifted considerably, as higher education transitioned from an elite system to a diversification and democratization of education.
As Ethiopia’s leading public university for five consecutive years (2009 to 2013), Jimma University is a unique setting for this international writer’s workshop. Jimma’s fertile hills are the birthplace of coffee and sessions will take place at JU’s beautiful main campus.
Please contact Amber Murrey-Ndewa with questions about the workshop: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ake, Claude (1978) Social Science As Imperialism.
Appadurai, Arjun. (2006) The Right to Research. Globalisation, Societies and Education. 4(2), 167-177.
Graham, Mark (2014) The Knowledge Based Economy and Digital divisions of Labour. In Companion to Development Studies, 3rd edition, eds V. Desai and R. Potter. Hodder, 189-195.
hooks, bell. (1989) Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black. Boston, MA: South End Press.
Hitchcock, Peter (1997) Postcolonial Africa? Problems of Theory. Women’s Studies Quarterly 25(3/4), 233-244.
Kigoto, Wachira (2015) Social Science Neglect Leads to Narrow Development View. CODESRIA Newsletter. Available: http://codesria.org/spip.php?article2482
Mamdani, Mahmood.(2012) Beyond the Colonised, Neoliberal University. Available: http://www.independent.co.ug/news/news-analysis/6259-beyond-the-colonised-neoliberal-university-?format=pdf
Mignolo, Walter. (2011) The Dark Side of Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options.
Mudimbe, V. Y. (1988) The Invention of Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Smith, Linda T. (1999) Decolonizing Methodologies. London & New York: Zed Books Ltd.
Yigezu, Mogues (2013) Funding Higher Education in Ethiopia: Modalities, Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects. In Funding Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa, Damtew Teferra (ed). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 38-71.