Research as more than extraction? Knowledge production in post-conflict Africa

Over time, researchers, policymakers and the international community have justifiably placed great attention on the participation of people in contemporary forms of slavery. For example, the magnitude of forced labour and sexual slavery against girls and women during war situations have attracted substantial research and policy analysis, contributing to bringing these experiences at the forefront of international debate. However, less is known about how researchers and policy makers concerned with the harms experienced by this population and their communities can participate in meaningful knowledge production without exacerbating their situations. This talk draws from an e-book that brings together researchers from diverse backgrounds, scholars based at universities as well as researchers working with NGOs to think through the collaborative and ethical dilemmas of knowledge production in the area of enslavement, conflict and forced marriage in Africa. Highlighting methods of and the ethical reasons for different approaches in the Global North and South, the e-book argues that it is not a matter of overcoming extractive tendencies in research, but rather working with a reflexive awareness to expose and address them.

Dr Allen Kiconco received her PhD in African Studies from the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, the University of Birmingham. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand, in the Department of Political Studies. Dr Kiconco works on the lived experiences of women and girls in both conflict and post-conflict settings of Africa, including abduction, captivity, forced labour, sexual slavery, forced marriage and forced pregnancy. This work includes extensive fieldwork with former combatants and sexual violence survivors in northern Uganda and Sierra Leone. Her current research with the Conjugal Slavery in War project attempts to connect wartime forced marriage experiences across Uganda and Sierra Leone. These experiences have contributed to a specific focus on the methodological and ethical procedures researchers use when undertaking fieldwork focusing on sexual violence, and how different forms of knowledge regarding sexual violence in Africa are produced and consumed. Her book ‘Conflict, Reintegration and Gender in Uganda: Returning Home?’ is under contract with Routledge.

CSIS seminar talks are free and open to all.