Applying a Decolonial Lens to Research Structures, Norms and Practices in Higher Education Institutions

/Applying a Decolonial Lens to Research Structures, Norms and Practices in Higher Education Institutions
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Applying a Decolonial Lens to Research Structures, Norms and Practices in Higher Education Institutions

September 18, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Global research in humanities and social sciences around the world has been historically embedded in a dominant Anglo-American theoretical framework that has favoured its own traditions of knowledge generation, validation and scope, reflecting hierarchical relations rooted in the colonial past. In recent years, ethnocentric and racialised paradigms of knowledge have been profoundly challenged in different contexts, reflecting on movements to decolonise curricula, pedagogy and theoretical thinking. However, much less attention has been given to the structural and institutionalised mechanisms of research development, funding and dissemination and how these may or may not be conducive to the diversification and decolonisation of knowledge production in the world.

Funding schemes made available by UK/EU funding bodies display various characteristics and tendencies that can be problematic from a decolonial perspective. These are especially important for grants with an international reach, such as those delivered through the GCRF or the EU Horizon 2020 funding schemes. The problematic patterns mentioned can be enhanced at the level of research offices which need to attune themselves to the standards and expectations of funding bodies and the UK research councils. Individual researchers who operate in this complex landscape may feel challenged to form and cultivate egalitarian partnerships, with implications for the decolonisation of global knowledge production.

The Research Office at SOAS is committed to furthering discussions within the institution about decolonising research structures, practices and norms and has actively sought to contribute to this effort. This event aims to create more bridges between funders, decolonial scholars and research support services in higher education institutions to raise reflexivity on the limitations of current practices and to explore together creative ways to overcome these, address them more constructively and build better mechanisms of communication between funding bodies, research offices and academics. The event will result in a report that will be communicated to UKRI and the research councils of England, as well as made available to the wider public under open access arrangements.

The event is supported by the London International Development Centre (LIDC) and the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU). The event is open to both SOAS members and external attendees involved in higher education research, research development and funding.

A Conversation at SOAS for Funding Bodies in the UK, Research Development Staff and Researchers from Universities in the UK and Globally

13:30–14:00 – Registration and refreshments in Room S113, Paul Webley Wing, Room S113

14:00–14:10 – Welcome from organisers

Introduction, Dr. Alex Lewis, SOAS

Event objectives and structure, Dr. Romina Istratii, SOAS

14:10–14:50 – Panel 1: Applying a ‘decolonial’ lens to higher education and research funding

Chair: Prof. Lindiwe Dovey, SOAS

Dr. Meera Sabaratnam, SOAS
Dr. Matthew Harris, Imperial College London
Dr. Kerry Harman, Birkbeck University of London
Dr. Faye Gishen, UCL/Royal Free London
Q & A

14:50–15:40 – Panel 2: Assessing funder language and structures and research office practices

Chair: Dr. Romina Istratii, SOAS

Dr. Sarah Plowman, UKRI
Prof. Simon Goldhill, University of Cambridge/British Academy
Prof., Dr. Alex Tubawene Kanyimba, University of Namibia, Namibia
Dr. Mulugeta Berihu, Aksum University, Ethiopia
Dr. Jude Fransman, Open University
Q & A

15:40–16:00 – Break for refreshments and cakes

16:00–16:40 – Panel 3: Assessing attitudes and norms in collaborative global research

Chair: Dr. Alex Lewis, SOAS

Dr. Maru Mormina, University of Oxford
Prof. Michael Hutt, SOAS
Dr. Seira Tamang, Kathmandu, Nepal
Dr. Daniel Hammett, University of Sheffield
Q & A

16:40–17:00 – Roundtable discussion

Chair: Mr. Ben Prasadam-Halls, Director of Programmes, ACU

What have we learned?

What can be done better?

How can we create better communication outlets between academia and funders in the UK?


Wolfson Lecture Theatre