PICTURE: WAVEBREAKMEDIAMICRO
PICTURE: WAVEBREAKMEDIAMICRO

The academic old boys’ network must fall‚ Africans say in the August edition of the South African Journal of Science.

Staff from Unisa and the University of Venda (UV) said international scientific journals were still guided by the legacy of imperialism and colonialism‚ meaning contributions from the Global South — particularly Africa — are treated with disrespect.

"The stains of the colonial legacy still seem to manifest in the international publishing arena‚" said Mwazvita Dalu and Ashley Gunter‚ from Unisa’s geography department‚ and UV ecologist Tatenda Dalu. "It appears that all knowledge is often evaluated against ‘expert’ knowledge based on Western scientific paradigms before it is considered valued and useful."

Even the National Research Foundation rating system for South African scientists perpetuated the old boys’ network. "[It ranks] a local scientist with more publications in journals of Global North origin higher than those whose publications are mostly in local journals of Global South origin."

And they said it wasn’t just a matter of principle. "Although not intentional‚ these actions continue to actively facilitate the Global North in dominating policy development and implementation in the local sphere. The Global North continues to reinforce its power over the Global South through dictating which knowledge is considered ‘good’."

This attitude presents what they called a "significant challenge" to the decolonisation of the Global South.

The authors of the commentary said mistrust expressed itself in "intense and vigorous checks of native African writing or even the writing of authors of European descent who are affiliated with an African academic institution".

They said grants for inherently "African" research‚ involving species, such as the elephant and rhino‚ "continue to greatly exclude native African scholars".

"By consistently maintaining the reins on … what is accepted‚ rejected or simply unpublishable‚ the old boys’ network continues to hold up barriers to prominence on the global knowledge economy by African academics and institutions."

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