“E je alọta,” refers to “someone who goes and returns.” This Igbo aphorism is an apt description of African scholars that seek to bridge the distance between home and abroad. The reflexivity embedded in this statement as it relates to scholars’ positionality in the process of knowledge production is particularly pertinent within the context of hyphenated identities created by histories of migration, imperialism, transcontinental slavery, and other forms of human conquest and movement. The hyphenated identity is one that can serve as a source of creativity, complexity, strength and potential anguish. As an Igbo-American woman that seeks to authentically engage in development studies within the African diasporic context, the passion behind the work that I engage in is intricately tied to my identity.
This chapter explores the ways in which knowledge production and development in pedagogy, as well as research, perpetuates the realities of power asymmetries and possible sites of contention for African scholars in North American academies and beyond. Situated within a framework that critically examines institutions of higher learning that allege commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, this chapter considers the internal turmoil faced by an African scholar studying at a predominantly white institution. Engaging in various forms of qualitative analysis, including narrative inquiry and autoethnography, I consider the multi-faceted mediums through which the doctoral journey is both an exercise in intellectual development as well as personal revolution. Gathering insight from other scholars combined with personal narrative, this chapter re-centers the importance of “African” knowledge production within studies of Africa and the African diaspora.