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Invisible Intellectuals. African Academic Mobility in Question

Invisible Intellectuals. African Academic Mobility in Question

by Prof. Dr. Nadine N. Machikou (University of Yaoundé)

Thu 14 January 2021, 12-14, Zoom Link (RS Mobilites Sprint Lecture)

To listen to the podcast covering Prof. Dr. Machikou's lecture, please click here.


In 2018, only 4 % of fellowships attributed by the Scholar Rescue Fund of the Institute of International Education went to Sub-Saharan Africans. As a matter of fact, rescue policies carried out, at both national and international level appear to address relatively few African scholars: most of the reported cases of scholars and students at risk listed around the world by a number of organizations involved in relief policies are not African. The invisibilization of scholar endangerment in Africa has a lot to do with issues of categorization.  Though the place (geography) of danger matters in its categorization, some risky areas do not necessarily receive a bigger attention in relief policies. This predominance of immediate danger situations coupled to the acknowledgement (or recognition) of the academic condition has a very important impact on the categorization and measurement of African academics’ endangerment situations that may appear more diffuse and invisibilisation can thus be a qualification effect (immediate or structural danger). Invisibility is analysed as the expression of an academic disparity on the one hand; the continent being dominated academically both in its resources (less than 0.5% of the national wealth is devoted to scientific production) and in its production. But it’s more than that. On the other hand, and partially relating to this practical inequality, there is an epistemic disparity in the conception, the categorization and the policies on academic risk and largely of scholar rooted in the context in which first relief policies were frame. It’s the analysis of individual situations of endangerment and the micro-rescue initiatives they generated that reveals the singularity of African trajectory; though these situations hide more than they reveal the extent to which the condition of scholars on the continent is being put at risk.

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