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Critical review of "Knowledge Production in the Arab World"

samedi 17 juin 2017

An interesting review of our book in the framework of International Relations was published in Insight Turkey :

Quero Arias, Jordi. 2016. "Towards a Truly Global IR Theory ? : The Middle East and the Upcoming Debate." Insight Turkey 18 (2 / 2016):183-188.

About the book it says :

"The situation described in Knowledge Production in the Arab World is not really encouraging. In general, even if the authors recognize an increase in scientific production over the last decades, the Arab states are still part of a group of “non-hegemonic countries” sitting on the margins of the global hierarchical matrix of knowledge creation. Alternatively, a hegemonic center of research production continues to configure and dominate transnational research agendas (effectively, but also normatively). Knowledge production, again, becomes an expression of power. Worth noting in that respect is the chapter discussing the research coverage of the so-called Arab Spring and the hierarchies and legitimization dynamics in place among researchers from the “center” and those from the “periphery.”
This book is important for our discussion, as many of the structural shortfalls in IR theory pointed out above represent some effective limits that are also playing out in the Middle Eastern production of International Relations theory. To start with, specialization patterns in the region demonstrate the preponderance of natural science and engineering (especially clinical sciences, medicine and broader applied sciences) in preference to social sciences and the humanities. Especially worrisome in that respect are the regions of Arab Mashrek and Egypt. Additionally, it seems fair to claim that research on International Relations might be negatively affected by the four important factors accounting for cross-disciplines low knowledge production. Firstly, the universities’ agenda favouring teaching in front of high-quality research. Secondly, the absence of incentive structures prompting research as a necessary step for career advancement. Thirdly, the lack of a fully-functional and comprehensive network of journals published in Arabic. And finally, the nonexistence of systems in place that would measure the impact of research programs.
Other important deficits examined in the volume are the lack of scientific community formation ; broader fragmentation of social sciences ; regional brain-drain ; problems in setting an independent research agenda ; language barriers for researchers ; troubles in publishing in international peer-review journals (research not taken seriously by the “hegemonic” establishment) ; difficulties in accessing international journals due to logistical problems ; low level of citations of scientific publications produced the region (conceptualized as a proxy for global influence, prestige and reputation) ; lack of a significant number of local journals in Scopus and WoS databases ; and the negative impact of forces delegitimizing the social sciences (such as authoritarian political elites and some ideological-religious groups). All together, Knowledge Production in the Arab World offers a nuanced sketch of some of the reasons which ultimately prevent a more decisive role for Middle Eastern voices in the discussions on how to globalize the IR discipline."

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