Global Context

Respect for local scholars

When conducting research outside one’s own community/country it is important to show respect for local scholars throughout the research process. Involvement of local scholars is desirable and is likely to have practical benefits for the visiting researcher in terms of access to the research field and cultural understanding. Where feasible, research findings should be made available in the host country (translated if necessary). When establishing collaborations it should be borne in mind that local researchers may be placed at a disadvantage if they are less well funded, which is highly likely when conducting research in developing countries. Visiting researchers should also keep in mind that the local scholars with whom they collaborate are working within different social, legal and political contexts. (See the discussion of the economic difficulities faced by scholars in developing countries, below.) Care should be taken not to expose them to any dangers, either during the research or afterwards. In particular, it may be necessary to take precautions to ensure that information about their involvement is not disclosed.

Not jeopardizing established or future research

In planning and carrying research care should be taken not to impinge upon already established research projects. It is, therefore, necessary to be aware of existing projects, whether these are being run by local or non-local researchers, and to develop appropriate liaison with the people concerned.

Similarly, there is a duty to maintain and develop local good-will such that future research possibilities are not jeopardised. Researchers should be aware that irresponsible actions can jeopardize access to a research setting – or even a whole country – for other researchers. In this regard the ESRC has stated:

There are particular risks associated with research access in certain parts of the world, and research which might threaten the long-term viability of other researchers’ work in particular settings will not be funded.

“Radicalization” and Violence: A Critical Reappraisal (2007), p7

Appreciating the situation of academics in developing countries

Intellectuals, academics and professionals saw jobs disappear or salaries decline as budget cuts took hold … consultantships became a safety net for potentially downwardly mobile intellectuals willing to spout the civil society, free market, alternative development line.

James Petras ‘NGOs: In the Service of Imperialism’
Journal of Contemporary Asia. Volume 29, Issue 4 (1999), p 429

The above quotation illustrates the vulnerability of academics in developing countries. Whilst a necessity to earn research income from external consultancy is familiar to many UK academics, the situation of academics in developing countries can be invidious. Issa Shivji (Professor of Law, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania) noted:

We have metamorphosed from intellectual researchers of yesterday to policy consultants of today. The truth of course is that we are neither consulted nor recommend policy. Policy is set elsewhere … while we, the local counter-parts as we are called, mount stage shows organising national workshops of “stakeholders”.

No one pretends that consultancy generates knowledge… we all know, and admit it in private.’

Shivji I, 'The Life and Time of Babu: The Age of Revolution and Liberation'
in Law, Social Justice & Global Development (eJournal, University of Warwick), 2001

Francis Njubi of San Diego State University puts it more strongly, imputing blame to those accepting such work:

Members of the comprador class [i.e. people ‘bought’ by the colonizers 1] use their national origins, colour and education to serve as spokesmen and intellectual henchmen for organizations such as the WB or the IMF. They receive lucrative contracts for research and development that serve a dual purpose: putting a human (Black) face on international capital while forcing client states to accept draconian conditions that amount to debt peonage.

Francis Njubi, Mots Pluriels, No 20. February 2002.




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