DISCURSIVE RISKS: What are the epistemic assumptions of the analyst of collaboration?

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Angela Okune's picture
August 13, 2018
  • AO: Cerwonka and Malkki use collaboration (in analysis and write-up) as a way to make explicit assumptions (about method, interpretation, etc.) and as a way to “tack” between theory and empirical social facts (15). Their analysis focuses on the nano level and less on the techno or eco levels.

  • AO: Cerwonka emphasizes the value of having her assumptions documented out (in email correspondences) in part for her to be able to go back over them and analyze them (her past self?). However, their “collaboration” is more of the getting of advice from her mentor (and her perhaps the writing of the book which they do not discuss as much). Underlying Cerwonka’s introductory text is still the lone fieldworker who is working out the process of ethnography and checking in every once in a while to her mentor (not too different from Malinowski writing letters to his partner?). The two use this book to reflect on methodology and process. Malkki looks at some of the meso and macro level questions - noting that “institutional and micropolitical hierarchies were there” (165). However, they do not actually reflect extensively on what it means to “collaborate” although I would argue theirs is a collaboration, albeit a light one.

Angela Okune's picture
August 13, 2018

AO: Citing Star, Kenner holds that the technical infrastructure and human expertises (the “standards, wires, and settings”) need to be understood to understand the “aesthetics, justice, and change” of digital scholarly production. She focuses on the techno level of analysis but also includes analysis of the organizations and of their expertises involved.

Angela Okune's picture
August 9, 2018
  • AO: The authors don’t seem to question the concepts of “global North” and “global South.” (I think this is common of most of the work around this (see Pollock who also noted the problematics of the binary but used it nonetheless). In using it, they continue to reify a divide.

  • AO: The doctoral student suggests that the “collaboration” had reciprocol benefit because “benefit was derived by all” but I find this to be weak. She fails to account for the differential benefits and stakes in the doctoral project. The biggest discursive gap here is on the meso and techno. She briefly accounts for how the economic and legal infrastructures of the doctoral program (and academy more general) are already structured by inequality (within which she is also caught) but seems to believe this can be overcome if there is some type of “mutual benefit.” In this case, she appears to hold employment and translation as being benefits for Southern field resarchers. Strangely she seems to see the “southern” researchers teaching the “Northern” student as a benefit for the Southern researchers? (I would argue it is a benefit for the Northern researchers). The underlying assumption is that collaboration is good for all parties and if structured correctly, there is a way to ensure that all benefit and there are reciprocal and mutual benfits.

  • AO: I find the analysts' use of the terms "Northern" and "Southern" homogenizes lots of differences. By forgrounding global North and global South dynamics, they don’t discuss the hierarchies of power within local teams, etc including quesitons of gender, race, class, etc.

  • AO: The authors look at collaboration noting that it is key to especially think about collaboration around research project inception and design (rather than just during fieldwork). They also focus on collaboration in authorship noting that there are exisiting biases in peer review processes in the most prestigious journals which are usually biased in the favor of Western-trained researchers. However, they do not discuss much about the technical infrastructures that structure collaboration. They mention the importance of moving from findings to praxis but do not go into sufficient detail about how that might be achieved. Perhaps most ironic is their discussion about co-authorship, etc. and the fact that the two Northern researchers are the only two listed as co-authors. It raises a question about how to broader the definition of an “author” ? (echoes Biaglioli’s work on who is a scientific author).

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