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Disrupting habits of North–South research collaboration: Learning in co-authoring

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One of the frequently mentioned manifestations of asymmetrical relationships in North–South research collaboration has been challenges in co-authoring joint international publications. We critically reflect on our attempt to counteract this tendency and analyse a process of producing an edited volume on practices of citizenship in East Africa, which reports selected findings of a four-year collaborative research project between Tanzanian, Ugandan and Finnish academics. The project was based on philosophical pragmatism, and especially John Dewey’s ideas concerning learning as reformulation of habits. Consequently, our reflection of learning presented in this paper draws from the pragmatist notions of habit and disruption. We analyse how some prevalent habits in support of asymmetrical knowledge production emerged and the ways in which we attempted to reformulate them in our own practices by initiating continuous dialogue within the team, introduction of writing retreats and offering short-term fellowships.


L'une des conséquences fréquemment évoquées des relations asymétriques dans la collaboration de recherche Nord-Sud est la difficulté de co-rédiger des publications internationales conjointes. Nous menons une réflexion critique sur la façon dont nous tentons de contrer cette tendance et analysons le processus de production d'un volume édité sur les pratiques de la citoyenneté en Afrique de l'Est, qui rend compte d’une sélection de résultats relatifs à un projet de recherche collaboratif de quatre ans entre des universitaires tanzaniens, ougandais et finlandais. Le projet était fondé sur un pragmatisme philosophique, et en particulier sur les idées de John Dewey concernant l’apprentissage comme reformulation des habitudes. Par conséquent, notre réflexion sur l'apprentissage présentée dans cet article s'inspire des notions pragmatistes d'habitude et de perturbation. Nous analysons la façon dont sont apparues certaines habitudes répandues qui favorisent la production asymétrique de connaissances et la façon dont nous avons tenté de les reformuler dans nos propres pratiques en initiant un dialogue continu au sein de l'équipe, en introduisant des retraites d’écriture et en offrant des bourses à court terme.

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Kontinen, T., Nguyahambi, A.M. Disrupting habits of North–South research collaboration: Learning in co-authoring. Eur J Dev Res 32, 529–543 (2020).

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