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About this video
Decolonising Global Epistemologies: asking questions about how knowledge is defined, and the implications for publishing, partnerships and impact
Professor Diana Jeater, School of Histories, Languages and Cultures
Is academic knowledge simply a statement of how the world appears within European culture? How different would it look if we foregrounded ancestral spirits, or preferred to taxonomise knowledge rather than theorise it? What defines what counts as ‘good’ research? If epistemic violence has historically silenced alternative ways of constructing knowledge, what are the implications for how we frame research projects now? In decolonising research, it is not enough simply to want to be more "inclusive", when our most basic concepts of what knowledge is are rooted in half a millennium of European political and cultural colonisation. Designing global research that fully engages with experiences at the local level requires a willingness to be aware of other forms of knowledge, and other ways of doing and disseminating research, beyond those of the western academy. But the ways in which we validate knowledge are subject to global conventions that privilege western epistemologies over those of the rest of the world. Should we - can we - think and research using new forms of knowing, or does that simply lead us down the dead end of relativism? Who has the power to validate knowledge, and why? Drawing on decades of experience of researching and mentoring in southern Africa, and editing an area studies journal, this session will discuss practical ways to be open to these questions, both in critical thinking and in critical practice.
Diana Jeater researches on Zimbabwean history. Her interests are eclectic but have always focused on challenging the narratives of the Global North and trying to represent the past in terms that are true to Zimbabwean perspectives. She has published on sex and sexuality, religion & belief, language and translation, law and jurisprudence, health and healing, citizenship and rights, witchcraft and politics. She has recently stepped down from editing Journal of Southern African Studies in order to help get a new journal, based in Zimbabwe and reflecting Zimbabwean perspectives, off the ground.
This event is part of the webinar series Decolonising Research. Over the last decade, the debates in the social sciences and humanities, but also in further disciplinary fields, have focused on decolonising teaching and the curriculum. While this is a crucial venue of exploration into and transformation of contemporary higher education, these debates need to go in parallel with an effort to decolonise the other central activity that universities engage in, namely research. To advance this debate at the University of Liverpool, the present webinar series will explore what it means to decolonise research at our own institution, but also in the contemporary UK and global higher education setting. Focusing on topics around research methodologies, ethics of research and hiring, data collection and analysis practices and dissemination, we will use a pool of research conducted by members of the university research staff to open up a sometimes uncomfortable, but ever more important conversation of what we can do better to decolonise our research praxis.
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