Co-organized by

London School of Economics (Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa)

University of Johannesburg (School of Communications, Faculty of Humanities)

University of Oxford (Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies)

COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on the scholarly agenda, with major research councils and funding institutions diverting resources to the study of the pandemic, and ways of imagining a post-pandemic world. However, there has been less institutional exploration on how COVID-19 has transformed the manner in which researchers conduct field work, particularly in the humanities and social sciences.

In response to the pandemic, some African countries have implemented strict lockdowns, with universities going further to restrict field research by halting national and international travel, while others have gone entirely alternative routes. Across the continent, fieldwork has been interrupted or cancelled and there has been a shift towards using methods that allow research at a distance. This has led to a proliferation of new digital tools, which have opened up new opportunities for participation in previously closed spaces. This includes increase accessibility to global research seminars and an uptick in data collection via digital methods, although these changes do not come without risks. In this seminar we will explore the impact COVID-19 has had on longstanding questions of inequalities, transnational cooperation, and ethical research collaboration. Has COVID-19 fundamentally transformed research practice in Africa? What changes would we like to see stay and what changes should be actively resisted? We will explore these questions at this roundtable discussion with esteemed researchers.

Introductions: Nicole Stremlau (University of Oxford/University of Johannesburg)

Session 1: Methods and ethics

Rosemary Okello (Strathmore University, Kenya)

Tapiwa Chagonda (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

Grace Akello (Gulu University, Uganda)

Duncan Omanga (Social Science Research Council, USA)

Laura Bear (London School of Economics, UK)- respondent

Session 2: Transnational collaboration and networks

Tim Allen (London School of Economics, UK)

Ronald Kalyango Sebba (Makerere University, Uganda)

Ylva Rodny-Gumede (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

Lawrence Sao Babawo (Njala University, Sierra Leone)

Andrea Renda (Centre for European Policy Studies, Belgium) – respondent


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