ABSTRACT

One way to discuss knowledge production in African universities would be in terms of binary oppositions: endogenous vs exogenous, universal vs local, the Global North vs the Global South, Africa vs the West. That might be attractive because it would allow us to generalise about big pictures, large-scale trends and intellectual issues. In this chapter we choose a different approach, inspired by the philosophy of pragmatism, the methods of ethnography and our own long experience of working with two universities in Uganda. We analyse knowledge production in relation to sets of dilemmas confronting institutions and individuals. That is to say, we concentrate on tensions and contradictions within, rather than oppositions between, settings. We are attentive to the ways actors deal with difficult alternatives. The dilemmas we examine are two: how to achieve excellent research and teaching while managing on scarce resources; and how to meet both international standards and local needs for research.