Event details

Call for papers – workshop “Postcolonial legacies, scholarly mobility and research capacity building”

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International workshop

Orient-Institut Beirut, Lebanon


15-16 June 2017

Call for Papers (PDF)


The workshop examines the conditions shaping postcolonial knowledge production in the social sciences, with a particular focus on geographies of doctoral mobility and funding. Since the earliest years of university education in Africa and the Middle East, many of its academic leaders have been trained in the former empire centres or elsewhere in the global north. The formation of national scholarly communities has relied on highly mobile populations of research students. This uneasy dynamic has been complicated in recent years by an increasing emphasis on the production of useful social science knowledge as a precondition for economic development. Governments put in place ambitious doctoral training plans; at the same time, supervision cultures are underdeveloped, employment patterns are becoming more hazardous, and research is increasingly produced outside academia.

We explore these dimensions of knowledge production, with a disciplinary focus on the social sciences and humanities, and a regional focus on Africa, particularly East Africa, and the Middle East, including the Gulf, although contributions from other regions of the world are also welcome. Goals of the workshop is to develop theories of academic mobility; to explore the role of individual and institutional networks on scholarly mobilities and scientific diaspora formation, and to identify how research and knowledge production is being reshaped by new movements of postgraduate students and forms of institutional isomorphism.

Topics to be explored could include:

. The legacy of postcolonial networks and patterns of scholarly mobilities, along with recent changes; of particular interest would be studies addressing the mobilisation of networks and modes of circulation.

. An analysis of sites of knowledge reproduction at the doctoral level, as well as of research training practices throughout the last decades; case studies of specific institutes offering postgraduate training would be particularly welcomed.

. Non-academic sites of knowledge production, and circulation of scholars between scholarly and consultancy oriented research.

. Ways of assessing the impact of doctoral student mobility and post-doctoral mobilities on the production of knowledge.

. Papers addressing these questions from a methodological point of view, for example on how to measure mobility in contexts that do not offer reliable statistical data.


The workshop welcomes contributions from anthropology, demography, history, sociology, political-economy and regional studies; explicit discussions of methodologies are actively encouraged. Participation of doctoral students is particularly welcomed.



Abstracts (500 words maximum) should be emailed by 15 April 2017 to: Daniele Cantini at Cantini@dont-want-spam.orient-institut.org and Lama Kabbanji at lama.kabbanji@dont-want-spam.ird.fr . Accepted paper presenters will be notified within two weeks. Transport and accommodation costs can be covered.