Vice Versa

14 juni 2012



Research funding in the field of African Studies is increasingly being justified by highlighting the contribution it can make to solving development problems. This is related to the general expectation that scientific research makes a direct contribution to improving human well-being. This development entails epistemological and practical issues that should be at the centre of discussions about the status of African Studies. The entailing epistemological issues are, in fact, neither new nor particular to African Studies. Jürgen Habermas’s thoughts on communicative action were partially a response to what he saw as an assault on the sovereignty of the scientific pursuits that revelled in conceptual clarification while creating an enabling environment for dialogue. In pitting them against the instrumental rationality of the new managerial class with its positivist conception of science, he was rightly drawing attention to the need to revisit the methodology of the social sciences. In a sense, therefore, the expectation that research contributes to enhancing human well-being is part of a larger epistemological challenge that faces the social sciences in general and, by refraction, the field of African Studies. The aim of this seminar is to raise these issues and provide a solid epistemological grounding to the practice of research in African Studies. The claim is that so-called practice-oriented research (i.e. research that yields results in tune with development goals) poses a danger to the theoretical and conceptual integrity of African Studies. A discussion of these issues would seem essential if African Studies is to remain committed to genuine scholarship. Elísio Macamo is Professor of African Studies at the University of Basel. Having studied in Maputo, the UK) and Bayreuth (Germany), he taught development sociology at the University of Bayreuth and was a founding member of the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies. He has also been a research fellow at the Centre for African Studies in Lisbon (Portugal), an AGORA fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Berlin and a visiting lecturer at Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique. He regularly gives methodological workshops to Portuguese-speaking African doctoral students for CODESRIA. His interests include the sociology of religion, technology, knowledge, politics and risk, and especially phenomenological and interpretive approaches to empirical social research. His current research projects focus on the politics of the rule of law and comparative studies of development. Date:  Thursday 21 June 2012 Time: 15.30-17.00 Place: Room 3A06, Pieter de la Court building, Wassenaarseweg 52, Leiden Speaker: Elisio Macamo, Professor in African Studies, University of Basel You are kindly requested to register for this seminar.

Opinie: ‘Brief minister Kaag over maatschappelijk middenveld: analytisch zwak en weinig ambitieus’

Door Fons van der Velden | 09 juli 2019

Het is een groot goed dat de Nederlandse overheid zoveel fondsen ter beschikking stelt voor de versterking van maatschappelijke organisaties en maatschappelijk middenveld, schrijft Fons van der Velden in deze opiniebijdrage naar aanleiding van de kamerbrief van minister Kaag. Maar hij vindt de brief analytisch zwak en van weinig ambitie getuigen. Wat had beter gekund?

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Tip 3 aan Kaag: ‘Lever in op je privilege en geef zuidelijke organisaties meer inspraak bij het bepalen van prioriteiten’

Door Lizan Nijkrake | 08 juli 2019

Minister Kaag werkt hard aan een nieuw subsidiekader voor het maatschappelijk middenveld. Ze wil meer eigenaarschap geven aan zuidelijke ngo’s om hen meer legitimiteit te geven, en ziet daarbij een andere rol voor Nederlandse organisaties. Vice Versa vroeg vier zuidelijke organisaties hoe zij dit zien. Wat is hun gouden tip voor onze minister? Met vandaag Carla López Cabrera, directeur van Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres (FCAM) in Nicaragua, een feministisch fonds dat lokale vrouwenrechtenbewegingen in Centraal Amerika steunt.

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Shifting fundamental power issues in funding relationships

Door Evelijne Bruning Ruerd Ruben en Lau Schulpen | 02 juli 2019

This article claims that the current aid architecture favours clientilism, dependency and short-term projects. The authors Evelijne Bruning (The Hunger Project) Ruerd Ruben (Wageningen University & Research) and Lau Schulpen (Radboud University Nijmegen) are suggesting four possible ways to overcome this in order to shift power closer to the ground.

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