New Approaches to Scientific Dependency and Extraversion: Southern Theory, Epistemic Justice and the Quest to Decolonise Academia

  • Franziska DübgenEmail author
  • Stefan Skupien
Part of the Global Political Thinkers book series (GPT)


Several research fields have developed during the last decades that align with Hountondji’s calls for scientific independence and thus enable expanding his analysis and critique of scientific dependency and the call for the re-appropriation of endogenous knowledge. This chapter gives an overview of contemporary discussions in the social studies of sciences that connect to the indicators that Hountondji developed in his observations of scientific dependency. Furthermore, we link his work with recent debates under the umbrella notion of “Southern theories”, normative concepts such as epistemic and cognitive justice and discuss the calls for pluralizing sources of knowledges or de-linking from the global system of knowledge production as possible remedies. The chapter concludes by delineating the meaning of decolonization of academic spaces in Africa and beyond with reference to the RhodesMustFall-movement, that started in South Africa in March 2015. This example helps to illustrate many of Hountondji’s concerns.


Sociology of science Epistemic justice Plurality of knowledges Southern theory Rhodes Must Fall Global scientific dependency 


  1. [AP]: Hountondji, P. J. (1996). African Philosophy: Myth and Reality (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  2. [EK]: Hountondji, P. J. (ed.) (1997). Endogenous Knowledge: Research Trails. Dakar: Codesria.Google Scholar
  3. [SfM]: Hountondji, P. J. (2002). The Struggle for Meaning: Reflections on Philosophy, Culture and Democracy in Africa. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Adams, J., Gurney, K., Hook, D., & Leydesdorff, L. (2014). International Collaboration Clusters in Africa. Scientometrics, 98, 547–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Almeida, S., & Kumalo, S. (2018). (De)Coloniality Through Indigeneity: Deconstructing Calls to Decolonise in the South African and Canadian University Contexts. Education as Change, 22(1), 24.Google Scholar
  6. Amin, S. (1968). Le développement du capitalisme en Côte d’Ivoire. Paris: Minuit.Google Scholar
  7. Amin, S. (1990 [1986]). Delinking: Towards a Polycentric World. (Michael Wolfers, Trans.). London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  8. Anderson, E. S. (1995). The Democratic University: The Role of Justice in the Production of Knowledge. Social Philosophy and Policy, 12(2), 186–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Anderson, E. S. (2012). Epistemic Justice as a Virtue of Social Institutions. Social Epistemology, 26(2), 163–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bradley, M. (2008). On the Agenda: North-South Research Partnerships and Agenda-Setting Processes. Development in Practice, 18(6), 673–685.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chaterjee, P. (1998). Talking About Our Modernity in Two Languages. In P. Chaterjee (Ed.), A Possible India: Essays in Political Criticism (pp. 263–285). Calcutta: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chaudhuri, A. (2016, March 16). The Real Meaning of Rhodes Must Fall. The Guardian. Available at: Accessed 28 May 2018.
  13. Cloete, N., & Maassen, P. (2015). Roles of Universities and the African Context. In N. Cloete, P. Maassen, & T. Bailey (Eds.), Knowledge Production: Contradictory Functions in African Higher Education (pp. 1–17). Cape Town: African Minds.Google Scholar
  14. Cloete, N., Muller, J., Makgoba, M., & Ekong, D. (Eds.). (1997). Knowledge, Identity and Curriculum Transformation, Curriculum. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman.Google Scholar
  15. Confraria, H., & Godinho, M. M. (2015). The Impact of African Science: A Bibliometric Analysis. Scientometrics, 102, 1241–1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Connell, R. (2007). Southern Theory: The Global Dynamics of Knowledge in Social Science. Sidney: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  17. Dübgen, F. (2015). Editorial: Epistemic Justice in Practice. Wagadu: A Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies, 15, 1–10.Google Scholar
  18. Dübgen, F. (2019, forthcoming). Scientific Ghettos and Beyond. Epistemic Injustice in Academia. In V. Beck, H. Hahn, & R. Lepenies (Eds.) Dimensions of Poverty. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer. Google Scholar
  19. Emmanuel, A. (1982). Appropriate or Underdeveloped Technology. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Fanon, F. (1968). The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove Press.Google Scholar
  21. Fatnowna, S., & Pickett, H. (2002). Indigenous Contemporary Knowledge Development Through Research: The Task of an Indigenous Academy. In C. Odera Hoppers (Ed.), Indigenous Knowledge and the Integration of Knowledge Systems (pp. 67–95). Claremont: New Africa Books.Google Scholar
  22. Fricker, M. (2007). Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fricker, M. (2013). Epistemic Justice as a Condition of Political Freedom? Synthese, 190(7), 1317–1332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gaillard, J. (1994). North-South Research Partnership: Is Collaboration Possible Between Unequal Partners? Knowledge and Policy, 7(2), 31–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Gaillard, J., Gaillard, A. M., & Krishna, V. V. (2015). Return from Migration and Circulation of Highly Educated People: The Never-Ending Brain Drain. Science, Technology & Society, 20(3), 269–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Haraway, D. (1988). Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14(3), 575–599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Harding, S. (1997). Is Modern Science an Ethnoscience: Rethinking Epistemological Assumptions. In E. C. Eze (Ed.), Postcolonial African Philosophy: A Reader (pp. 45–70). Cambridge: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Harding, S. (Ed.). (2011). The Postcolonial Science and Technology Studies Reader. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Hountondji, P. J. (1978). Recherche théorique africaine et contrat de solidarité—Résumé. Travail et société, 3(3–4), 353–364.Google Scholar
  30. Hountondji, P. J. (1990). Scientific Dependence in Africa Today. Research in African Literatures, 21(3), 5–15.Google Scholar
  31. Hountondji, P. J. (1995). Producing Knowledge in Africa Today. The Second Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola Distinguished Lecture. African Studies Review, 38(3), 1–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jansen, J. (2017). As by Fire: The End of the South African University. Cape Town: Tafelberg.Google Scholar
  33. Keet, A. (2014). Epistemic ‘Othering’ and the Decolonisation of Knowledge. Africa Insight, 44(1), 23–37.Google Scholar
  34. Mamdani, M. (2007). Scholars in the Marketplace. The Dilemmas of Neo-Liberal Reform at Makerere University, 1989–2005. Dakar: Codesria Books.Google Scholar
  35. Manzini, N. (2016). Violence Is a Necessary Process of Decolonization. Available at: Accessed 3 April 2018.
  36. Mbembe, A. (2016). Decolonizing the University: New Directions. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 15(1), 29–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Mignolo, W. D. (2007). DELINKING: The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammar of De-coloniality. Cultural Studies, 12(2), 449–514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Mignolo, W. D. (2009). Epistemic Disobedience, Independent Thought and De-colonial Freedom. Theory, Culture & Society, 26(7–8), 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Mungwini, P. (2016). The Question of Recentring Africa: Thoughts and Issues from the Global South. South African Journal of Philosophy, 35, 523–536.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nordling, L. (2018). How Decolonization Could Reshape South African Science: A Generation of Black Scientists Is Gearing Up to Transform the Research Landscape. Nature, 554, 159–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ntuli, P. P. (2002). Indigenous Knowledge Systems the African Renaissance. In C. Odera Hoppers (Ed.), Indigenous Knowledge and the Integration of Knowledge Systems (pp. 53–67). Claremont: New Africa Books.Google Scholar
  42. Nyamnjoh, A. (2017). The Phenomenology of Rhodes Must Fall: Student Activism and the Experience of Alienation at the University of Cape Town. Southern Africa Strategic Review, 39(1), 256–277.Google Scholar
  43. Odera Hoppers, C. (Ed.). (2002). Indigenous Knowledge and the Integration of Knowledge Systems. Claremont: New Africa Books.Google Scholar
  44. Okwaro, F. M., & Geissler, P. W. (2015). In/dependent Collaborations: Perceptions and Experiences of African Scientists in Transnational HIV Research. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 29, 492–511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Parker, M., & Kingori, P. (2016). Good and Bad Research Collaborations: Researchers’ Views on Science and Ethics in Global Health Research. PLOS One, 11, e0163579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Prah, K. K. (2017). Has Rhodes Fallen? Decolonising the Humanities in Africa and Constructing Intellectual Sovereignty. Pretoria: The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAF) Inaugural Humanities Lecture.Google Scholar
  47. Smith, L. T. T. R. (1999). Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  48. de Sousa Santos, B. (2007). Abyssal Thinking. Review, XXX(1), 45–89.Google Scholar
  49. de Sousa Santos, B. (2014). Epistemologies of the South: Justice Against Epistemicide. Boulder: Paradigm Publisher.Google Scholar
  50. Student Representative Council (SRC). Statement from 11 March 2015, Available at: Accessed 3 April 2018.
  51. Verran, H. (2002). A Postcolonial Moment in Science Studies: Alternative Firing Regimes of Environmental Scientists and Aboriginal Landowners. Social Studies of Science, 32(5–6), 729–762.Google Scholar
  52. Visvanathan, S. (1997). A Carnival for Science: Essays on Science, Technology, and Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Wa Thiong’o, N. (1986). Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. Oxford: James Currey Ltd.Google Scholar
  54. Wamai, N. (2016). Decolonising the Academy—Towards a Global Movement. Available at: Accessed 5 February 2018.
  55. Wiredu, K. (1996). Cultural Universals and Particulars: An African Perspective. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  56. World Bank (Ed.). (1998). Knowledge for Development: Including Selected World Development Indicators. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Zink, E. (2016). Research Training, International Collaboration, and the Agencies of Ugandan Scientists in Uganda. In Tor Halvorsen & Jorun Nossum, Knowledge Networks: Toward Equitable Collaboration between Academics, Donors and Universities (pp. 57–84). Cape Town: African Minds.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MünsterMünsterGermany
  2. 2.WZB Berlin Social Science CenterBerlinGermany

Personalised recommendations