Creating Connections between researchers from the ‘Global South’

Academic discussion around colonialism, intersectionality and the challenges faced by those pursuing research outside of their cultural contexts found a new forum recently thanks to three doctoral candidates.

Valentine Ibeka, Lisita Paongo and Anthonia Uzoigwe
Valentine Ibeka, Lisita Paongo and Anthonia Uzoigwe

Valentine Ibeka (Science), Anthonia Uzoigwe (Arts) and Lisita Paongo (Education and Social Work) organised, with the support of a Creating Connections Grant from the School of Graduate Studies, cross-faculty workshop Early Stage Researchers from the ‘Global South’ Doing Scholarship in the ‘Global North’: Issues and Ethics.

The initiative brought senior academics and doctoral candidates together for a one-day forum focused on the experiences of early-stage researchers from countries categorised as ‘developing’ who pursue academic work in countries categorised as ‘developed’. Keynote speaker Associate Professor Yvonne Underhill-Sem’s opened proceedings by addressing the issue of research in hegemonic spaces. She was followed by presentations from fellow academics and doctoral candidates spanning four faculties and diverse backgrounds that included Nigerian, Indian and Tongan perspectives and experiences.

The initiative provided a forum for early-stage researchers from countries categorised as ‘developing’ to share their experiences of pursuing academic work in countries categorised as ‘developed’.

Valentine Ibeka

"Coming from the ‘developing world’ plays havoc with established power dynamics,” explained lead applicant Valentine, “with researchers regarded as less credible even within their own fields of expertise. The resulting competence negotiations, in addition to differences in organisational structure, technology and engagement styles, present a very specific set of challenges over and above that of the research itself.

“I wanted to engage with academics who may have had similar encounters from their various research endeavours. However, I needed an institutional platform to undertake this engagement. When the news of the Creating Connections Grant came up, I knew it was a good opportunity to further discussion.”

The trio's vision was to build community among researchers, address ethical issues, and encourage scholarly attention - as well as to share insights and strategies.

“As many of these experiences are not present in the current literature, the workshop aimed to open up a discourse around these issues and to help upcoming scholars who might find themselves living similar experiences themselves.”

I can't tell you how important it was for me to be in a space where I could listen to and share experiences of coloniality

Workshop attendee

Feedback from the event shows how valuable these conversations are. “At the end, there was a unanimous call from participants for more scholarly gaze on the issues raised during the workshop”, Valentine shared. Other feedback pronounced it as “fantastic”, “a pleasure”, “one of the most exciting workshops I ever attended here”. The value is clear, especially to one attendee: “I can’t tell you how important it was for me to be in a space where I could listen to and share experiences of coloniality”.

Valentine, Anthonia and Lisita's contribution enriches the University of Auckland research community and discourse about the experiences of researchers from countries categorised as 'developing' more widely. It was also a personal learning experience: as well as gaining grant application experience and the organisational skills it takes to pull off such a successful event, they plan to submit a paper formed as a result of the workshop's proceedings.

Valentine Ibeka, lead applicant and workshop co-organiser

You can find out more about Valentine, Anthonia and Lisita - and their research - via the links below:

About the Creating Connections Grant

The Creating Connections Grant is funded by the School of Graduate Studies. It supports doctoral candidates who want to lead interdisciplinary community-building research initiatives. Round 1 is open for applications until Friday 30 April.

 Find out more at Creating Connections Grant.