CGHE Webinar 321

Academic promotion politics in Uganda, (post)coloniality, and the predicament of African publication outlets – Webinar 4: African research and the global science system series

Date: Tuesday, 6 December 2022 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Zoom webinar, registration required
Speaker(s):

Event Materials

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Makerere University
The Main Building of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda

Speaker: Dr Jimmy Spire Ssentongo
Chair: David Mills

Publication, as one of the characteristic requirements for academic promotion, raises several questions about the subtexts of its performance and their implications for publication in Africa. Through an empirical qualitative study of two Ugandan universities, I examine how promotion policies and practices shape publication outlet choices and Africa-based publication initiatives. I show that promotion processes in Ugandan universities are driven by complex quality checks that are sometimes characterised by biases against publications from African outlets and rationalised malice against individual academics in settling personal scores. With the partial aid of theories of (post)coloniality and Southern theory, I explain the roots of Afro-pessimistic biases in promotion practices and argue that both the genuine quality checks and other neo-colonial biases incentivise publishing in the ‘North’ and lead scholars to avoid African options. This exacerbates the already challenging circumstances of African publishers, limits local access to knowledge, and shrinks space for epistemic pluralism.

About the CGHE webinar series on African research and the global science system

This special CGHE webinar series explores the challenges facing African research in a global science system. Our four speakers bring research-informed perspectives from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Uganda and South Africa, and collectively focus on the intertwined dynamics of political economy, institutional cultures and academic mobility. Drawing on qualitative case studies, narratives and auto-ethnography, they explore the different challenges that Africa’s researchers face whilst training, working and publishing. These include personal narratives of early career researchers (Chiramba), the political economy of knowledge production (Zegeye), academic mobility and migration (Adebayo) and the role of publication requirements in academic careers (Ssentongo).

In many countries, there is a shortage of funding and time for research, and so too for doctoral supervision support. In search of funding and resources, some researchers go ‘outside’ for doctoral study, but this can reinforce academic dependency and a pejorative ‘brain drain’ discourse. The alternative is to survive material discomfort and academic precarity. University research and publishing infrastructures are often neglected, partly because academics are under pressure to prioritise international journals for their work. Drawing on debates from postcolonial theory, the series explores academic pessimism and Africa’s potential research futures.

You need to register individually for each webinar in the series. You can register for the other webinars in the series here.

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