Collaboration in Times of a Pandemic: Reflections on a Student Exchange between the University of Namibia and the University of Bayreuth

Excerpt from BOASBLOGS Fieldwork meets Crisis:

At the University of Bayreuth (UBT), all MA students in anthropology and African Studies have a unique opportunity to do fieldwork abroad, preferably in a country in Africa. This way, they are encouraged to practically engage with specific problems, to improve their research skills and to develop close collaborations with their partners on the ground. On the other hand, the University of Namibia (UNAM) as part of their internationalization efforts aims at promoting diversity and intercultural interaction through exchange programs and collaborations such as these. Therefore, UNAM students, particularly postgraduate students are encouraged to participate in collaborations and networks that provide opportunities that will help improve not only their research skills but also enrich their academic journey. Clearly, students on both sides benefit in multiple ways: personally, academically and in terms of possible career opportunities after their studies. But one question remains pertinent and needs to be considered in the design of such programs, namely, how to make sure that this opportunity for practical research would also sensitize students about the various power hierarchies entailed in fieldwork without giving up on the very idea of research per se (see the early critical intervention of Linda Tuhiwai Smith 1999)?

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