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The ‘(Silent) Voices: Bukavu Expo’ online exhibition – exploring power dynamics between researchers from the Global North and Global South

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An online exhibition of cartoons drawn by Congolese political cartoonist, Tembo Kash, has been launched. The cartoons are illustrations of blog articles written by local researchers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during workshops that took place in Bukavu, eastern DRC. The workshops explored the challenge of research collaborations between the Global North and the Global South. The cartoons raise a number of issues about donor methodologies, duty of care, cultural differences and gender discrimination as well as the difficulties of conducting research in conflict and post-conflict settings. A total of 36 blogs were written, altogether named “The Bukavu Series”, hosted by the Governance in Conflict Network (GIC) at Ghent University.

The new exhibition is a visual representation of the Bukavu Series, entitled the “(Silent) Voices: Bukavu Expo”. The preface is named “(Silent) Voices” to illustrate the experience of local researchers’ voices and wider contributions often being erased or ‘silenced’ from the research design and publication process. Local researchers report that they are often given a pre-planned research framework to adhere to which may not fit with the contextual realities on the ground. They also report a common experience of being treated as mere data collectors with their names not appearing as authors on the final publication. Overall, the exhibition seeks to highlight the power dynamics and current inequalities between North – South research collaborations. It has implications for policymakers, global north donor agencies, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and academics alike.

Almost all the content was produced by Congolese researchers and institutions, namely the Angaza Institute, the GEC-SH and the ISDR-Bukavu and received funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)1 through the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and Ghent University.

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1 Formerly the UK Department for International Development (DFID)

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The ‘(Silent) Voices: Bukavu Expo’ online exhibition – exploring power dynamics between researchers from the Global North and Global South. Field Exchange 64, January 2021. p17. www.ennonline.net/fex/64/bukavuexpo

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