From dominance to diversity in international cooperation: a view from South Africa
NA-ERUS. Network-Association of European Researchers on Urbanisation in the South. http://www.naerus.net
Critical research in the 1970s and 1980s in South Africa played an important role in exposing the implications of repressive and discriminatory urban policy and management. This critical urban research movement, which also engaged with approaches for a post-apartheid city, was subsequently replaced by a neo-liberal turn in urban research, largely informed by dominant international research thrusts. Within this context, what is the role of international cooperation? The paper takes a critical look at north-south urban research initiatives involving research in South Africa, to which the author has had direct exposure. The paper also examines the changing conditions under which local research funding is made available in South Africa, using the example of current restructuring of research funding at Wits University, Johannesburg. The paper argues that these conditions broadly follow the (neo-liberal) institutional trends set by the Anglophone northern counterparts. Should north-south cooperation reinforce this trend? The paper highlights the critical need for publication and dissemination in the south, of local as well as international research. Access in the south to academic literature, and the publication and dissemination of local research, are cruc ial in order for southern researchers to effectively cooperate. The paper points to the imbalance of facilities and resources in many north-south cooperations. Linked to this is the critical question as to where and by whom the research agenda is set. Far from assuming that research on South African urban issues is best initiated, conducted and funded locally, the paper argues that value is added when researchers from different regions apply different questions to the same problematic. Here the example is used of a group of young international and local PhD researchers addressing a similar urban problematic in South Africa, but with different theoretical approaches depending on the region of their academic home. The complexity of the unevenly developed urban south requires many different questions to be asked. The paper argues that ideally north-south cooperation should lead to enrichment in terms of the research questions and the theoretical approach, rather than imposing one dominant framework as is often the case.
North-south Urban Research Initiatives.South Africa Local Research Funding. Neo-Liberal Institutional Trends. Anglophone Northern Counterparts. Publication and dissemination in the South.
Huchzermeyer, Marie. 2003. From dominance to diversity in international cooperation: a view from South Africa. NA-ERUS. Network-Association of European Researchers on Urbanisation in the South. http://www.naerus.net