Inequalities in knowledge production: academics from developing countries

Today I made a presentation at the European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes (EADI) General Conference in Bonn, Germany. The theme of my presentation was the extent to which academics. located in developing country institutions, are participating in academic journals in the field of development studies as authors and members of editorial boards.

My research found that academics from developing countries are marginalised as both authors and editorial board members. Is this a problem? I think it is from the perspectives of equity and responsibility. During the discussion, my colleague,Mike Powell, put this in perspective:

What would you think if there was a meeting to decide on the future of the Netherlands but that almost all of the people there didn’t live in the Netherlands, and weren’t even Dutch!

Doesn’t sound like a good idea to me!

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Communities of practice in international development

On 15 May 2014, I was in Barcelona to make a presentation on knowledge sharing in communities of practice.

In this presentation, I presented two examples which I thought might interest the participants who were – with two exceptions – not from the development sector at all: Dgroups and KM4Dev. Based on these two examples, I tried to identify possible lessons for those working in other sectors. Given that much of the audience was Spanish (and Catalan) speaking, I also asked my colleagues from KM4Dev for examples of videos about development work in Spanish which I could play for the participants. At the end of my presentation, I thus played a video of work on indigenous knowledge among the Mapuche people in Chile.

Attending the conference was a great experience for me – not only because it was so well organised – but also because I had the opportunity to meet a number of colleagues from Spain and further afield. I only attended very few presentations myself – my Spanish is inexistente (thank you google translate) – but it was really great to see Karen Watkins’ presentation of a questionnaire that she has developed with Victoria Marsick which assesses dimensions of a learning organisation. This has already been tested in 70 different organisations and I really liked the emphasis on informal learning and the learning culture.

I was also very happy to have the opportunity to meet Josu Uztarroz who has blogged about my presentation in Spanish.

Here is the paper Communities of practice in international development on which the presentation is based. It includes four cases of communities, including the CTA Smart toolkit.

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Case study of KM4Dev

Probably one of the most vibrant communities of practice in the development sector comprises the Knowledge Management for Development (KM4Dev) community which has been in existence since approximately the year 2000.

Continue reading

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Principles for cognitive justice

Just came across a very interesting paper by Maja van der Velden, From communities of practice to communities of resistance: civil society and cognitive justice, published in 2004, which presents a critical analysis on approaches to knowledge management and knowledge sharing. I particularly like the ‘principles for cognitive justice’, based on paper by Shiv Visvanathen, that she lists:

  • All forms of knowledge are valid and should
    co-exist in a dialogic relationship to each
    other

  • Cognitive justice implies the strengthening of
    the ‘voice’ of the defeated and marginalized.

  • Traditional knowledges and technologies
    should not be‘museumized’

  • Every citizen is a scientist. Each layperson is
    an expert.

  • Science should help the common man/woman.

  • All competing sciences should be brought together into a common heuristic for dialogue.

 I also really liked what she wrote in a footnote: culture-as-knowledge and not culture-as-tradition.

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What would have happened without Dgroups?

At the moment, there is a discussion on KM4Dev-l about which online communities offer the best functionalities: Dgroups, Ning, google groups etc. I have been biting my tongue and trying very hard NOT to intervene because I am a bit worried that I sound like an old gramophone record going on and on, although if you are under 20 years of age, you might not know what that is…. Continue reading

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Information and knowledge in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

ImageUntil mid-March 2014, there is a public consultation regarding the proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network based on a public consultation document. I have had a read through the document and searched for information and knowledge, but these appear to be conceived as marginal to development. Continue reading

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Hybrid knowledges for resilience

Despite the generalized worldwide trend of erosion of traditional ecological knowledge, a new Special Issue in the journal Ecology and Society suggests that substantial pockets of such knowledge persist in both developing and developed countries. This issues identifies the common trend of hybridization in which traditional knowledge, practices, and beliefs are merged with novel forms of knowledge and technologies to create new knowledge systems. The findings also reinforce previous hypotheses which have argued that systems of traditional ecological knowledge serve as reservoirs of experiential knowledge that can provide important insights for the design of adaptation and mitigation strategies to cope with global environmental change. The introduction to the Special Issue discusses policy directions that might help to promote maintenance and restoration of traditional ecological knowledge systems as sources of social-ecological resilience.

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