Africa  

Locating African Studies in the Global South: Fostering New Directions and Global Solidarities from Academic and Diplomatic Perspectives

H.E. AMB. ANDERSON N. MADUBIKE In China Sharing Thoughts on Diplomatic Perspectives on Handling Diverse Global Challenges
H.E. AMB. ANDERSON N. MADUBIKE In China Sharing Thoughts on Diplomatic Perspectives on Handling Diverse Global Challenges

AFRICAN STUDIES CONFERENCE KEYNOTE ADDRESS

BY

H.E. AMB. ANDERSON N. MADUBIKE
High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Australia With Concurrent Accreditation to New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu; May 24th-25th 2023 @ University of New England, Armidale, NSW

40TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF THE AFRICAN STUDIES ASSOCIATION OF AUSTRALASIA AND THE PACIFIC (AFSAAP) 2023

THEME:
Locating African Studies in The Global South: Fostering New Directions And Global Solidarities

Topic: Locating African Studies in the Global South: Fostering New Directions and Global Solidarities from Academic and Diplomatic Perspectives

Content

  • Greetings
  • Thoughts on Human Realities Which Give Significance to Our Work
  • Brief Background
  • Academic Perspectives
    • Theoretical Framework
    • Snippet on Representation of the Global South in Research Publications and Collaboration
    • Importance of Academic Debates
  • Diplomatic Perspectives
  • Recommendations
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion

Greetings

  • Permit me to begin by acknowledging the Traditional owners of the land on which we meet today; the Burramattagal people of the Darug Nation.
  • I would also like to pay my respects to the Elders past and present.
  • Also warm greetings from me to you all, from my family and from my colleagues at the High Commission of the Fed. Rep. of Nigeria.
  • I recognize all dignitaries, leaders of University of New England, leaders of AFSAAP, all participants, and ladies and gentlemen of the press
  • Congratulations to ASAAP for dutifully hosting this conference for 40 years, 4 decades of service to humanity.
  • Your mutual interest in the promotion of African Studies in Australasia and the Pacific region is yielding good fruits.
  • Kudos to all past presidents and their teams and to the present president and team.

This conference will provide us a unique opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions and debates surrounding:

  • the relationship between African Studies and the Global South + Global North.
  • the presentations and discussions shall be thought-provoking
  • and shall provide us much needed space to reflect as we move forward in our research, work and life.

We look forward to future conferences and events.

Thoughts on Human Realities which Give Significance to the Work of Researchers and Other Stakeholders in African Studies, Global South and Everywhere

  • Directly or indirectly, all human activities seem to be connected to reducing the pains and discomfort felt by people everywhere.
  • The dark fumes of pains arising from human sufferings are certainly not evenly distributed globally but all humans are familiar with pain.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is an example, both the North and the South suffered, teaching us that global solidarity is the way forward.
  • Directly or indirectly, all human activities seem to be connected to reducing the pains and discomfort felt by people everywhere.
  • The dark fumes of pains arising from human sufferings are certainly not evenly distributed globally but all humans are familiar with pain.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic is an example, both the North and the South suffered, teaching us that global solidarity is the way forward.

Background

  • As we all know, it is well-documented that the Global South, and especially Africa, has been historically marginalized and excluded from global processes, institutions, and power structures.
  • Situating African Studies and in the Global South can foster global solidarities and collaborations between scholars, practitioners, and social movements working towards common goals of social justice, equality, and sustainable development. This is for the good of all of humanity.

Academic Perspectives

  • Academia provides not only a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of the African continent but also promotes a more equitable and inclusive global academic community. It employs diverse systems of engagement such as theories and methodologies of research
  • One way to achieve this is through the creation of partnerships and collaborations between African universities and institutions in the Global South and Global North.
  • Additionally, they can help in capacity-build in African universities and support the development of the next generation of African scholars.
  • These partnerships can facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas, as well as the development of research projects that are relevant to the needs and perspectives of African communities.
  • From an academic perspective, the study of Africa must move beyond the traditional Eurocentric approach that has dominated the field.
  • This can be achieved by incorporating diverse perspectives from across the Global South, including those of African scholars and scholars from other regions that have historically been marginalized.

Theoretical Framework

The term “Global South” refers to countries that are located in the southern hemisphere and are considered to be developing or less developed (Dado and Connel, 2012). These countries were often former colonies that gained independence after World War II. Below, I share a few theories used by researchers in interrogating factors and generating new knowledge related to African Studies, the Global South, other developmental issues and more.

Dependency and world system  theories:

Dependency theory argues that periphery countries are subject to the exploitation, unfair terms of trade, excessive conditionality agreements and monopolistic competition that arises from core countries and as a result widens the gap of socioeconomic disparities in periphery countries (Hills, 1994).

Dependency theorists further argues that underdevelopment exists due to the unequal flow of resources from “poor” periphery countries to the “rich” core of wealthy states.

World system theory, understanding from Afrocentric dimensions that the world is organized into three regions: core, semi-periphery, and peripheral as described by Chilot, 1982.

The most advanced and developed countries, which control the majority of the world’s wealth and resources, are at the heart of the global system.

These countries make use of the labor and resources of less developed periphery countries, who are frequently forced to specialize in providing raw materials and cheap labor for export. Semi-peripheral countries occupy an intermediate position, with a certain level of integration into the core and some level of exploitation of peripheral countries (Pedro and José (2009).

The Decolonization theory

  • Decolonization is the process of challenging and undoing the legacies of colonialism and imperialism and creating new systems that are more equitable and just (Mohamed, 2003). This framework emphasizes the importance of recognizing and celebrating the diversity cultures and histories of the Global South and the empowerment of local communities to take control of their own destinies.
  • In the context of African Studies, decolonization involves challenging the dominant narratives and one-sided power structures that have been imposed on the continent and its people (Carli, 2016). This includes challenging the ways in which Africa has been represented and studied by outsiders, and creating new systems of knowledge production that are more inclusive and empowering.

Decolonization also involves fostering global solidarities between the Global North and the Global South (Punita, 2023). This involves recognizing the interconnections between the two and working to create a more equitable and just global system.

 

Snippet On Representation of the Global South Researchers in Research Publications/Collaboration

A bibliometric analysis was done about 3 years ago with over 15000 articles in Economics components of developmental studies focusing on countries and regions in the global south.

Global North recorded 73% of the published papers while global south accounted for only 16%.

Chelwa et al., 2020
Chelwa et al., 2020

For global south-focused papers, the global north accounted for 62% and 22% for Global South.

There are similar trends in research

  • that reports partnerships within the Global South and between Global South and Global North according to Nordling, 2015 and Saric et al., 2019.
  • in geosciences as reported by North et al., 2020
  • global Health and solidarities according to Tosam et al., 2018

Importance of Academic Debates

  • It can help to foster more dialogue and collaboration among scholars, activists, and practitioners from different regions and disciplines within the Global South, as well as with those from the Global North who share similar interests and values
  • It can help to generate new insights and perspectives on global issues and challenges, such as climate change, development, democracy, human rights, and social justice, that affect both the Global South and the Global North.

Diplomatic Perspectives

  • From a diplomatic perspective, the study of Africa must also be situated within the context of the Global South.
  • Diplomatic missions of Global-South countries whether in Global South Countries or located in Global North countries do facilitate research collaboration through inter-university partnerships

Other diplomatic aspects include advancing

  • South, South-South cooperation
  • regional integration
  • solutions for common challenges such as poverty, inequality, and climate change.
  • inter-university partnerships
  • Partnerships between universities and companies
  • amplification of African or Global South voices
  • data access for research
  • Another important aspect of the diplomatic perspective is the role of African/Global South diplomacy in engaging non-governmental organizations to enhance their effectiveness and priorities.
  • I encountered an example in May 2022, when I was invited by the Organization of African Academic Doctors (OAAD) to speak in their Precision Citizen Participation conference focused on mobilizing Citizen Participation in pursuit of the African Union Agenda 2063
  • their strategy is mobilizing thousands of African PhD holders, professors, entrepreneurs and PhD students spread across 5 continents and in all African countries, driving well-organized engagements using their common experience of having acquired PhD training www.africanacademicdoctors.org

Recommendations

  • The elites of the Global North are in a good position to continue to:
    • confront the biases between the Global   North and the Global South in terms of   academic production, dissemination, and   evaluation.
    • recognize and celebrate the diversity and   richness of the Global South cultures,   languages, histories, and epistemologies
    • advocate for a more equitable and   inclusive global order that respects the   sovereignty and dignity of the Global South   peoples
  • There is a need to rethink and redefine the scope and purpose of African Studies as a field that is not only concerned with studying Africa as an object, but also with engaging Africa as a subject and a partner in global knowledge production and exchange.
  • There is a need to diversify and democratize the sources and methods of African Studies by incorporating more voices and perspectives from within Africa and its diaspora, as well as from other regions and disciplines of the Global South
  • There is a need to challenge and transform the existing power structures and hierarchies that shape the production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa and the world, such as academic institutions, funding agencies, publishing outlets, and media platforms
  • There is a need to foster more collaboration and dialogue among African Studies scholars and practitioners across different regions, disciplines, sectors, and generations, as well as with other stakeholders in international affairs, such as policymakers, civil society actors, and cultural producers
  • There is a need to contribute to the decolonization and development of Africa and the Global South by addressing the pressing issues and challenges that affect their peoples and environments, such as poverty, inequality, conflict, climate change, human rights, and social justice

Conclusion

While we engage other submissions from many experts in the areas below, this discussion has:

  • explored the conversations around the ideas of placing or locating African Studies in the Global South and the Global South in African Studies.
  • argued that better forms of knowledge will emerge if more suited paradigms are used in production and dissemination of knowledge about Africa and the world.
  • shared thoughts on the current state and future directions of African Studies as a field that is more inclusive, relevant, and responsive to the needs and aspirations of the African people and their diaspora.
  • also considered the role of diplomatic activities of Global South country diplomats located in the Global North and vice versa in shaping, modulating, or affecting the development of African Studies vis-a-vis fostering new directions and global solidarities.
  • We hope that it has also helped to stimulate more interest and engagement with this topic among scholars, practitioners, policymakers, civil society actors, and cultural producers who are concerned with Africa and the Global South.
  • I am passionate about things of this nature and if I am here by next year’s conference, I hope to participate.

References

  • Chelwa, G. 2020.“Does Economics Have an “Africa Problem”?” Economy and Society 50 (1):78 99.doi:10.1080/03085147.2021.1841933
  • Nordling L. Developing partnerships. Nature. 2015; 527(7577):S60–2. https://doi.org/10.1038/527S60a PMID: 26560453
  • Saric J, Blaettler D, Bonfoh B, Hostettler S, Jimenez E, Kiteme B, et al. Leveraging research partnerships to achieve the 2030 Agenda: Experiences from North-South cooperation. GAIA-Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society. 2019; 28(2), 143–150
  • North M A, Hastie W W, Hoyer L. Out of Africa: The underrepresentation of African authors in high impact geoscience literature. Earth-Science Reviews. 2020, 103262
  • MJ Tosam, PC Chi, NS Munung, OOM Oukem-Boyer, and GB Tangwa. Global health inequalities and the need for solidarity: A view from the global south. Dev World Bioeth. 2018;18:241-9. DOI: 10.1111/dewb.12182. [PMID:29266755]
  • Punita L. (2023). Discourses on Global North and Global South Partnerships in Internationalization Strategies. https://doi.org/10.5206/cie-eci.v51i2.15155
  • Carli C. (2016). Afro-superheroes: prepossessing the future Journal of African Cultural Studies, DOI: 10.1080/13696815.2016.1168082Mohamed A. H. (2003). Decolonizing Methodologies; DOI: 10.35632/ajis.v20i3-4.1836
  • Pedro and José (2009). Portugal as a Semi-peripheral Country in the Global Migration System; https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2435.2009.00523.x
  • Chilot, D. (1982). World System Theory. Annual Review of Sociology, 8: 81-106. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.so.08.080182.000501
  • Hills, J. (1994). Dependency Theory and Its Relevance Today: International Institutions in Telecommunications and Structural Power. Review of International Studies20(2), 169–186. http://www.jstor.org/stable/20097366
  • Nour, D., and Connell (2012). The Global South. https://doi.org/10.1177/1536504212436

 


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