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Developing Guidelines for Responsible International Cooperation Through the Lens of Equitable Research Partnerships

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Date(s) - 21/10/2022
9:00 am - 1:00 pm

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Dr. Tandon spoke at the seminar on equitable partnerships and how these values should form the basis for the work on guidelines for responsible international cooperation. He began by asking the question – What is global? He said that most of the research collaboration that happens, for instance between India, South Africa and Brazil, is unlikely to be labelled as ‘global’; it may be called ‘inter-regional’ but not global. It is important to unpack the meanings that we attach to research collaborations while we sit in different parts of the world. He urged the audience to think how many times we think of North America/ Europe (preferably both) when we think of global partnerships. Operational inequity is a common practice where the theoretical frameworks are made in the North while the data is collected in the South, the synthesis of the findings in many field locations happen in the North. The publications are the predominant means of dissemination of findings, and they tend to be taken care of by the researchers in North. This division of labor tends to connote as if intellectual competence lies in the North while the tools used for data collection resides in the South.
Further he highlighted the conceptual and methodological asymmetries in ‘global’ research partnerships. Most of the times, fully developed research proposals from North are brought for consultation with Southern partners. Participation in the North is essentially an individual engagement while in the South it is and has always been a collective engagement. When the tools and methods are decided by the partners sitting in the North, it is not a participatory framework! Let us not be cosmetic and strive to include our Southern partners. He states that epistemic exclusion is a methodology of knowledge production based entirely within laboratories and creating standards called ‘western cannons’ in academia. But surely humanity in different parts of this world survived without those western cannons. In the process, they have produced a body of knowledge. This leads us to the question – what is knowledge? It is important to acknowledge that there are well established global practices that are still in use outside the western academic terrain.
Speaking of UNESCO’s Recommendations on Open Science, he states that the recommendation is about making science open to communities, practitioners and including citizen science. It is about making science open to different forms of knowledge production sites – indigenous knowledge, practitioners’ knowledge, experiential knowledge. An equitable global partnership must acknowledge different version, forms, approaches and meanings of knowledge and knowledge cultures.
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