The Coloniality of Global Knowledge Production: Theorizing the Mechanisms of Academic Dependency

Caroline Schöpf


Increasing calls to decolonize global knowledge production highlight the necessity of understanding the causes of inequality in global knowledge production, or ‘academic dependency.’ While theories of academic dependency or dimensions thereof already exist, there is a shortage of comprehensive accounts of the mechanisms creating and re-inscribing academic dependency. Integrating and extending previous theorizations, this article presents such a theory: I show how global academic stratification grants the academic core a standard-setting position, giving it power over the globally most highly valued mechanisms of evaluating research. This pressures academics anywhere on the globe to orient their research toward the preferences of the academic core (i.e., Global North ones). Further, the global stratification of the research degree system, with both core and periphery academic elites being trained in the core, strengthens Northern intellectual lineages and enhances North-to-South flows of academic influence, while disrupting Southern intellectual traditions and stifling South-to-North flows of academic influence. The stronger power of core academics in core-periphery collaborations centers Northern concerns and marginalizes Southern ones. English as the global academic language further privileges academics from Anglophone countries. This creates an inward-orientation of Northern knowledge production, producing over-theorized and Eurocentric knowledge lacking corrective feedback from the South, while creating an outward-orientation of Southern knowledge production, yielding fragmented, undertheorized knowledge disconnected from local concerns.


academic dependency; coloniality of knowledge; decoloniality; Eurocentrism; postcolonialism

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