Repositioning of Africa in knowledge production: Shaking off historical stigmas

Repositioning of Africa in knowledge production: Shaking off historical stigmas

African scholarly contributions and outputs are estimated to represent only about 2 percent of global knowledge production. Also, the continent is argued to be lacking in home grown theories with its students and researchers often resorting to mostly western-originated scholarly resources. Inspired by the African Agenda 2063 of leveraging higher education in contributing to the attainment of sustainable development goals, the Stream will explore barriers to scholarly productivity and discuss emerging and innovative ways of improving the continent’s knowledge production. In addition, given the colonial histories of most regions of Africa, impact research and publication requires early career researchers and academics to possess more than just disciplinary knowledge and research skills. Capacity building and mentorship are critical to improve their courage, confidence and publication skills for success to be realised. Contributions will also explore possible mentoring models such as networking amongst editors, senior scholars and early career researchers from the Global North and South to help break institutional and political barriers through internationalising scholarly productivity.


Panels to which papers may be submitted


1: Organisational and research cultures in African universities

Knowledge production is argued to be one of the critical drivers of national development and Africa has been found to lag behind the rest of the world in research productivity. In this regard, universities’ have a key role of informing and impacting national socio-economic and political agendas. A number of reasons have been proffered to explain the challenges that African universities face which impact on their ability to deliver on their mandate including inadequate research infrastructures, limited resources and poor technology systems and equipment, among others. Papers for this key sub-theme will explore these and other factors in the context of research and organisational cultures of African universities more in-depth to reveal the nuances of the challenges that Africa faces in the race for knowledge productivity and how these factors influence research in African universities.


2: Solutions and interventions to scale up Africa’s contribution to global knowledge production

Given the complexities of the historical and contemporary developmental challenges that African institutions of higher education face, a multipronged, multidisciplinary approach is required to combat the difficulties. Papers are invited to explore possible solutions and interventions which may include for example, transforming leadership, management and human resources systems; internationalisation; leveraging the diaspora; combating the adverse impact of colonial and post-colonial influences etc..


3: The role of quality assurance bodies in promoting quality research, innovation and development

This sub-theme focuses on quality assurance bodies’ involvement in promoting knowledge production and dissemination.   We welcome papers covering national quality assurance frameworks and quality research; quality assurance solutions for publication platforms; quality assurance and research capacity building.


4: The significance of policy in research, innovation and development

It has been established that national and institutional policies are crucial to enable universities to better host and manage innovation, research networks and communities of practice in relation to societal impact of scholarly activity. Papers are invited which will explore the policy and structural changes that are necessary to cultivate and advance scholarly innovation, productivity and impact.


  1. Colonial and post-colonial influences on research, innovation and development

Colonialism is argued to have contributed to the poor showing of African scholarship by privileging western knowledges, value systems and institutions while subjugating and marginalising non-western indigenous knowledges value systems and institutions. The existing pressures to publish in high ranking, reputable journals (mostly Western) is in part due to the belief that publishing in Western journals legitimises African scholarship.  Papers for this panel will reflect on these and related issues including the impact of the dependency on research funds from the North; researching indigenous knowledges etc.


Organiser: Juliet Thondhlana (