Researching Africa Day provides graduate students with the opportunity to network with fellow researchers, exchange information, share experiences, and discuss research strategies in a stimulating and engaging environment. The workshop is open to all graduates working on Africa within the disciplines of history, politics, development studies, geography, art and literature, anthropology, archaeology and the natural sciences.
The theme of this year’s workshop is: Redefining Research Practice in Africa
The workshop examines the challenges posed to researchers by African contexts and how researchers have responded to them. Do traditional methodologies remain adequate and relevant to address these challenges or is there need for innovation? Is there a case for the re-evaluation of the roles and responsibilities of the researcher and the ‘researched’?
To answer these broad questions, we invite papers on, but not limited to, the following sub-themes:
1. Critical reflections on research design and research methods:
Research in Africa employs a wide range of methodological ‘tools’, both individually and in an inter-disciplinary framework. Papers around this theme could include considerations of the use, validity, reliability and value of research methods and sources of information, including, for example, oral history, indigenous knowledge, archival research, participant observation, media and visual methods, as well as critical assessments of qualitative and quantitative research strategies.
2. Placing Africa in global context:
The political, social and economic challenges confronting African nations today have also been faced at other places and times in world history. Comparing the experiences of Africa to those of Asia, Latin America and other regions can provide a crucial new perspective on Africa’s past, present and future. What are the potential opportunities and difficulties presented by cross-country and cross-regional comparative research?
3. Negotiating access and acceptance:
Researchers’ positioning as ‘insiders’ or ‘outsiders’; their culture; gender; age; or language can facilitate or hinder access to the life and resources of the communities they wish to study. Gatekeepers, such as official or self-appointed authorities, may further hinder access. To what extent do researchers have to ‘fit in’ with the communities they research and how does this impact on the knowledge they produce?
4. Ethics and accountability of the researcher:
Some of the questions that researchers reflect upon during and after fieldwork involve issues around ‘giving back’ to the communities or the areas that are studied. Do researchers owe the research participants or gatekeepers anything? Do researchers have rights to the information they collect? Do gatekeepers have the right to control how data is used? Papers could include a discussion of alternative ways of disseminating research findings.
We invite papers on the issues outlined above. Presentations will be grouped into panels according to theme. Speakers will have between 15 to 20 minutes to present their paper followed by a discussion between the panellists and the audience.
Please send an abstract of your paper of about 200 words to the organisers no later than 27th March 2009.
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