Prasad, Shambu. 2020. "Constructing Alternative Socio-technical Worlds: Re-imagining RRI through SRI in India," Science, Technology and Society. Sage. https://doi.org/10.1177/0971721820903002 [open access]
While Responsible Research and Innovation has the potential for democratising the governance of research and innovation, translating it in the Global South would need dialogues and engaging with the plural knowledge systems and ongoing experiments on innovation at the margins that seek to construct alternatives. Entrenched power relations in the South do not allow for public dialogues that allows for society to engage with, if not speak back, to scientists in co-creating newer knowledge. Through the case study of the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an agroecological innovation that arose outside the formal research establishment, we show how vulnerable farming communities can proactively co-create alternatives to existing dilemmas in Indian agriculture. Re-imaging RRI in India, we suggest, requires closer attention to the role of civil society organisations in creating innovation spaces through informal and heterogeneous networks of social learning. Networks, we suggest, allow for better expression of creative dissent that could open newer vistas and alternative framing of knowledge. The RRI agenda is thus incomplete without an engagement with the politics of knowledge, and scientific controversies reveal technological lock-ins that hinders alternative framings and pathways.
Knowledge Swaraj: An Indian Manifesto on Science and Technology was published in 2011 by a collection of authors associated with the Knowledge in Civil Society (KICS) Trust in India.
Contact: Dr. C. Shambu Prasad, Xavier Institute of Management Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India 751013.
Key concepts: knowledge swaraj; cognitive justice; knowledge pluralism
“This is a Hind Swaraj-inspired document for the 21t Century. It asks what “self-rule (swaraj) for India” can mean, one century after Mohandas Gandhi wrote his manifesto for an independent India on board a ship from Europe to Africa. Swaraj today in the 21st century has to include the important domain of self-rule in science and technology too. If Mahatma Gandhi gave prominence to science and technology in the form of law, medicine and railways in the original Hind Swaraj, for the 21st century we see on centre stage: biotechnologies, tribal knowledge, space technology, handloom, information and communication technologies, and ayurvedic medicine. This Indian Manifesto on Science and Technology argues for Indian self-rule of its science and technology, for a knowledge democracy that draws its agenda for research and technology on the richness of Indian culture and the needs of the Indian people……
This Manifesto argues for an India that uses science and technology for its own agenda, for a certain style of doing science and technology, and for policies that transcend the dichotomy between experts and non-experts. It will argue for using science and technology for the benefit of the people, and it will argue for including the rich variety of expertise, knowledge and experience available in Indian culture and society in scientific practice. This immediately raises the question how non-scientific forms of expertise can be given a voice; how expertise from outside the scientific establishment can be given influence inside; how the “citizen” will converse with the “scientist.” The larger project of which this Manifesto forms the starting point is specifically aimed at these issues. Reviews of democratization experiences in other parts of the world, and experimentations in India with this Manifesto, will hopefully lead to making better use of the broad spectrum of expertise that exists in Indian society.”
Angela Okune points us to the work of Paulin Hountondji and his conception of ‘extroverted scientific activity’ (1990), where “scholarly work advances the theoretical needs and questions of the Western academy but does not serve the societies within which science is conducted” (Okune).
Hountondji, Paulin. 1990. “Scientific Dependence in Africa Today.” Research in African Literatures 21 (3): 5–15.
Hountondji, Paulin. 2009. “Knowledge of Africa, Knowledge by Africans: Two Perspetives on African Studies.” RCCS Annual Review 1 (September).
Hountondji, Paulin. 1983  African Philosophy: Myth and Reality, English (transl. H. Evans & J. Rée) Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. [second edition of the English version with a preface by Hountondji 1996]
Dübgen, Franziska and Skupien, Stefan. 2019. Paulin Hountondji African Philosophy as Critical Universalism. Palgrave Macmillan. https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783030019945
Leandro Rodriguez Medina offers a powerful conception of strategic vs. engaged|transcendental academic networks.
Rodriguez Medina’s co-author, Hebe Vessuri, was the winner of the 2017 Bernal prize awarded by the Society for Social Studies of Science for career-spanning contributions to the field of Science and Technology Studies.
Fully open access
RodriguezMedina, L. 2018. "On the Internationalization of the Social Sciences: A View From the South," University of California Los Angeles, School of Education lecture. February 1. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/rodriguezmedinal-2018-internationalization-social-science-view-south
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Rodriquez Medina, Leandro. 2019. Enacting Networks, Crossing Borders: A STS Perspective on the Internationalization of the Social Sciences in Mexico, Current Sociology 67(5): 705-722. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/rodriguezmedina-2019-enacting-networks-crossing-borders-sts-perspective-internationalization
RodriquezMedinaL & VessuriH. 2018. Cooperación Asimétrica: ¿la despolitización de las redes internacionales en las ciencias sociales actuales? In Rosalba G. Ramírez García and José R. Rodríguez Jiménez (Coords) Internacionalización académica y científica Políticas, itinerarios, saberes e instrumentos, Mexico City: CINVESTAV, CONACYT, RIMAC y UNESCO, pp. 17-36. https://stsinfrastructures.org/content/rodriquezmedinal-vessurih-2018-cooperaci%C3%B3n-asim%C3%A9trica-%C2%BFla-despolitizaci%C3%B3n-de-las-redes