Definition of Academic Publishing: Academic Publishing is the subfield of publishing which distributes academic research and scholarship. Most academic work is published in academic journal article, book or thesis form.
As a student of political economy in a deeply middle-class university in the UK my degree is designed such that I carry out independent research and you would think that I’d have so much space to explore the material I was interested in; I certainly thought so. And the issue was not that I couldn’t research what I wanted, the issue was that the things that I wanted to research had a limited scope and limited perspective. What do I mean by this?
Academic publishing is Eurocentric, that’s what I mean.
Knowledge has become a commodity, so publishing, whose purpose used to be a means of offering new knowledge, is now an end in itself. The monopoly of western narratives is perpetuated by the process that academic work has to go through to be considered a reliable reference but I want to avoid getting sucked into an essay outlining the western dominance of academia. Instead I’m going to say the things I’ve been wanting to say and ask what I’ve wanted to ask my lecturers and my university for the past year and a half:
1. How visible am I? On your campus, your lectures halls, in your seminar rooms? I mean, you’re aware of my presence, I’m quite confident of that, but my question is what you make of it when scholarship has been whitewashed? The issue here is representation; as an African black woman, I do not pertain to the “norm” of academia and there is little being done by those that control academic capital to allow for different narratives. And if I’m being honest, I’ve grown wary of seminar tutors/lecturers saying that they’ve tried to make reading lists diverse when the perspectives they offer up are still monopolised by the west.
2. How does my academic work make you feel? Because I tend to go all in with my politics of identity… I will be seen, and heard. I take it for granted that you will understand that I am not attacking your identity (see Interlude: Tina Taught Me), but from experience in seminar rooms I know some students do feel this way. What I’m trying to say here is that I have gone my whole life being uncomfortable, not recognising myself even in fiction novels, and it’s been damaging. But I turned that discomfort into pro-activeness, and now I find myself more and more though I haven’t limited myself to only what I can relate to. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to widen my perspective on those who are different to me. Do you see where I’m going with this?
The library is so limited. So limited.
And it’s not that we do not have black academics, African academics, etc. It’s that the control of academia by the west has silenced the global south, so we can say things all we want but we’re not validated, and this is a problem, and it needs to be realised.
In short, mainstream knowledge is produced by the west, for the west. The rest is of little importance so entire continents are turned into passive objects and all I can think of to remedy this is: get out of your comfort zone.
Read something you normally wouldn’t have, I recommend Decolonizing the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Also, and this one’s a biggie, our universities need greater variety of identity in lecturers.
I am a student of political economy in a deeply middle-class university in the UK, and the system doesn’t encourage us to really be critical. I mean… it does, but within the mainstream framework. I know people who are actively trying to dismantle this framework. And I want to be part of that group of people, and if you value knowledge, you should want to be part too.
Written by Yasmina Silva.
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