Black scholars have demanded the withdrawal of the autoethnography article

The African Studies Review The two are facing a call to withdraw a recent article by a white African who promotes “autonomy” or research that incorporates personal experience.

“We are amazed that such a paper, which presents irresponsible and unethical practices of data collection in African communities in the name of colonization, has passed and published editorial and equivalent reviews,” said an open letter to the journal, written by seven African scholars. Traditional and signed by about 1,000 supporters, mostly academics. “This paper is written for global audiences at a time when deleting and utilizing African scholarships and reducing the African population to native informants. It promotes awkward trolls that have distorted the field of African studies through methods and pedagogy such as ‘white reliefism’ and ‘borderism’.

In addition to the withdrawal, the letter authors want to know why the article was first published: “We are concerned about what this would mean for African studies if such invisible ‘non-cosmic’ scholarships were awarded. This, in turn, points to a flawed equivalent review process that does not provide its rigor. Differential treatment raises the question, ‘Who are our “partners” in peer review?’

Against ‘isolation’

The article on “African Studies Keywords: Autoethnography,” was written by Katrina Deli Thompson, Professor Evzu-Bascom of the Department of Humanities, and Katherine Mara, Professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and African Postdoctoral Fellow. Cultural Studies at Madison. Both authors identify white women and argue against a tradition বা or at least an aspiration অনেক among many Africans of “isolation” and “materialism”.

Throughout the article, autoethnography is defined as a method that “prioritizes personal experience, both during research and writing about it,” the author says now is the time for more Africans to incorporate or centralize personal experience in their work. Thompson and Mara even suggested that it could help advance the broader goal of “colonizing” African studies, saying that “this is the right time to examine what role self-confidence and self-reflection can play in achieving this.”

Thompson said, for example, that many undergraduate students in their department are from Africa, and despite having “intuitive insights into life on the continent, they are often trained to analyze texts in isolated ways rather than drawing on their personal experiences and internal knowledge.”

Thompson, however, did not restrict the use of autoethnography among African Africans, and explained how they came to embrace it after meeting and marrying a Zanzibar man and converting to Islam:

At our wedding later that year, my experience of receiving premarital guidance from Zanzibar women led me to new research on how Swahili women can talk about Islamic marriage and teach each other. At the same time, an anthropologist friend was researching converts, and he interviewed me about how I had learned about my new religion. An art-oriented anthropologist herself, she encouraged me to include my own by suggesting that I read something about the autoethnographic method, not to be limited to the experiences of Zanzibar women.

While talking to Swahili women about their personal lives and recording the intimate advice they gave to new brides, I realized two things that deeply influenced my research. First, I realized that they were talking to me, not just as a researcher, but as a Muslim woman, as the wife of a Swahili man, and for many of my conversations, as a family member, which meant I had an insider. What was the point of view like receiving such instructions. Second, since I was asking women to share the kind of information that is usually kept secret about their marriage, and as a result, to share it with a wider audience through my scholarship, it just seemed fair that I was equally willing to share my own personal. It took me a while to figure out how much I should share in my writing, but eventually I began to explore autoethnography earnestly in conference presentations and publications.

Thompson and Mara do not suggest that they have invented autoethnography (which has existed for a long time), and they discuss various opportunities for collaborative autoethnography, such as giving research participants credit for their ideas and researching with them. Yet their critics blamed them (and the journal) for thinking that it was a good idea for the two white women to focus on personal experiences in research involving the African people, especially in the name of colonization.

“Instead of actually being aware of power and position, authors instead co-opted autoethnography – a method that should be used to support empowerment in post-colonial discourse – to empower themselves to speak for the African people,” he claimed. The withdrawal letter said “this reflects a growing tendency to disassociate itself from its liberal practice of ‘disarmament’ from ‘campfire decolonization’, a critical critique of the theory with a warm and safe place under the misapplication of inclusion and equality structures.”

Other, specific, critiques of articles (and, again, journals), include the following (in the language of seven scholars):

  • “We are deeply disappointed that this research paper encourages harmful and extractive research practices in our communities, especially through the rearrangement of autoethnography as a way to weaken known consent.” One author provides an explanation that dangerously violates privacy and leans towards the basic ethics of ethnographic research throughout the article. They use their marital conduct in Zanzibar culture to talk to Swahili women whose ‘information … is usually kept secret’, as evidenced in this article and fully presented in another, ‘open’ to intellectual visualism. It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
  • “The publication of this method reflects the dual value of the review process. African scholars are expected to decentralize themselves and their intellectual heritage, or risk a lack of objectivity. We were outraged by the writers ‘announcement that'[African scholars] As a way to justify the ‘external’ interpretation of their lives, they are often trained to analyze texts in isolated ways (p. 4). In contrast, African scholars cannot easily enter into special privileged, secret, or sacred places outside their own community to write about other people’s lives in a way that again reflects a lack of understanding and comprehension of the dynamics of energy.
  • “The authors, in fact, erase a long history of innovative autoethnographic writing from the African continent and which has been consistently ignored by Western-dominated African research.”

The letter was written by Unpini Mohammed, an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia; Chisomo Kalinga, Fellow of the University of Edinburgh Chancellor of Social Anthropology; K. Renেনে Odanga, a graduate assistant in the Department of African Studies and Research at Howard University; Ruby Gelzer, an independent scientist; Chris Olaoluwa Ogunmodede, Associate Editor World Politics Review; Furaha Asani, an independent scholar and writer; And Ruth Engojica Agbakoba, a postdoctoral research fellow in healthcare innovation at New York University.

Not a debate

Kalinga, who raised questions for his colleagues on Monday, said via email that “as African scholars, some of whom have worked on colonization, we are not interested in debating our humanity as scholars and research topics.” Kalinga added that the authors of the letter “want to keep themselves away from any published news framing Inside higher ed Or else it presents the issue as a debate rather than a legitimate concern about harming the African community. “

Neither Thompson nor Mara responded to a request for comment.

Benjamin Lawrence, editor-in-chief African Studies Review And a professor of history at the University of Arizona said the journal’s editorial board met Friday but declined to comment immediately on the withdrawal.

While the authors of the letter see the push for auto ethnography as a sufficient threat to the African community beyond the standard academic debate, some ideological allies have argued over whether to withdraw the best way to challenge Thompson and Mara. The African-American Timothy Burke, a professor at Sorthampton College, wrote: Substack “Academia: Withdrawal or Attack?” The essay that he wrestled with signing the letter, although he agreed with many of it.

The Thompson and Mara essay “seeks to unravel what it sees as a new trend in African studies by encouraging white Euro-American scholars to focus more on themselves when writing about African culture, society or history,” Burke wrote. “I understand very well why writing a white scholar in African or Black Studies seems so weaker than before, but the answer to that dilemma must be No.‘Well, let me focus more on myself.’

There were other criticisms of Burke for the article, including that it was “a bad example of a bad genre of academic writing”, a genre where writers “claim methodological and theoretical innovation” without being fully involved with the former. Existing literature on that supposed innovation.

Burke said the “only real uncertainty” was this: “There’s an argument that you use peer review এবং and withdrawal প্রাথমিক initially to stop serious work. Real Errors from being published, and secondly, the work that has been published to confirm is making some important contributions and acknowledging the work of other scholars and other knowledge makers. That argument is often said, ‘But peer review should not be used to stop something that is philosophical, explanatory, substantive. Wrong: What you do with this kind of publication is to criticize it, perhaps harshly, as part of the scholarship public works. “

It is possible that the “problems accumulated” around the article – the methodology and methodological ethics, the problem of how the ‘autobiography’ relates to the field, the problem of its accuracy in characterizing the reflexivity history of the field, the problems that are not realistic. “- meet the withdrawal threshold,” he wrote.

Burke said Monday that he did not sign the letter, in the end, because “it is important not to use revocation as a process of criticism, and I think in the case of reflection it will be in the case of this article.”

Others said that signing the letter was the obvious choice.

“Thanks to Chisomo and Tim for doing what the reviewers should have done, and sorry for the mental and intellectual labor it takes. It’s appreciated!” Adrian van Clinken, professor of religion and African studies at the University of Leeds, told Kalinga on Twitter.

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