"Who do we write our research for?" Sharing reflections on decolonising engagement and access to research outputs in the field of African studies

Teresa Poeta (University of Edinburgh)
Duduzile Ndlovu (University of the Witwatersrand)
Language and Literature
David Hume, LG.10
Thursday 13 June, 17:55-19:40

Short abstract:

Within ongoing efforts to decolonise African studies the panel asks who we render our research accessible to and how. We invite a reflection on ways to disrupt traditional knowledge dissemination structures to better engage audiences and fairly represent the contribution of those 'being studied'.

Long abstract:

How has Africa negotiated, co-produced and/or resisted its reproduction and representation in research? How do we connect our research with the people and lands it is written about? How can we make research and its outputs truly participatory and inclusive? Research mostly gets published in European languages and in the format of academic articles. This precludes in many instances those who are being studied or written about from critiquing or meaningfully engaging with the texts. This panel seeks to explore the ways in which participants, communities and the wider public can be included in a greater capacity in discussions stemming from the research and its outcomes. More specifically, we would like to focus on issues regarding language and genre. What is the language that we choose to publish results in? Can we broaden our understanding of academic writing by stretching the genre with an aim to include a wider audience? Whose responsibility is it to further the reach of research knowledge? This panel would like to encourage the sharing of experiences and challenges encountered when exploring alternative ways of presenting research. This includes the translation into languages less academically recognised and/or their use in primary texts; considering non-academic written genres (blogs and social media, poetry, short stories, creative non-fiction) as well as exploring non-written creative representation (music, dance, drama, video).