- On Collaboration and Communication "In the Now"
We are three scholars, situated in different disciplines, institutions, and geographies, who have built relationships with one another through our research in Accra, Ghana. In this editorial, we reflect on our ways of relating, supporting, and learning from one another as a starting point to consider the journal's new section, "In the Now." We coauthored this editorial through a process of engaging together in a virtual conversation, followed by a collective transcription for focus and clarity, and then an incorporation of editors' comments via revision and resubmission. Our attempt through this mode of conversation is to preserve our perspectives and voices, to acknowledge our positionalities, and to enact our commitment to research coproduction and scholarly collaboration and exchange, which are fundamental to our work.
We here differentiate among coauthorship (our practice of conversing and writing together to produce a piece of academic scholarship), collaboration (which generates socially relevant knowledge by bridging scholarship to wider society and including the participation of diverse social actors and forms of knowledge), and coproduction (the inclusion of research participants as active decision-makers throughout the research process, as in setting research design, producing data, analyzing, and disseminating research learnings) (Phillips et al. 2012). We reflect critically on the limitations of traditional scholarly forms and consider more flexible, open, and accountable approaches to scholarship, drawing on our own experiences and practices. In doing so, we wish to think about how an approach to scholarship rooted in care might inform the way we respond to this moment, in terms of the challenges wrought by the pandemic and the renewed calls to address elitism, epistemic and structural violence, and racial inequality in the academy. While we look forward to continuing this conversation among ourselves, we hope it can be iterative within our broader scholarly community. The lack of conclusion to our conversation should be considered an invitation for further discussion.
So here we are. … I was just going to start with the questions we'd [developed together in preparation for this conversation]. The first question is what does it mean to do scholarship in dialogue? [End Page 88] I think about the three of us, in different disciplines and doing different research projects; we come from different heritages, and our institutional and geographic locations are different. [Victoria is a Nigerian-American PhD researcher in urban studies and planning at the University of Sheffield, UK; Joseph Oduro-Frimpong is a Ghanaian and senior lecturer in humanities and social sciences at Ashesi University, Ghana; and Jennifer Hart is a white American and associate professor of history at Wayne State University, USA.] It's our research and teaching in Accra that brought us together. For example, Frimpong and I worked together in Accra in 2018 and 2019, part of a team that organized and ran weeklong architecture-writing workshops for Ghanaian and Nigerian undergraduate and graduate students (Accra Architecture Writing Workshop, n.d. a., n.d. b.). While we're not doing formal research projects together, we're in dialogue with each other about our research projects. I know the richness that's brought for me and my work as a PhD researcher. In 2019, I was collaborating with my research partner, Spread-Out Initiative NGO, to coproduce research in Nima. Frimpong and I'd meet at Choco-Pain coffee shop to discuss how this work was evolving—our stops, starts, and insights. These conversations enabled me to think through questions that continually emerged in this research, such as the way Nima residents critically ask, "Am I not a human being?" of their spatial experiences of marginalization. My conversations with Frimpong, who researches and writes from the framing of popular culture, guided me as I worked through it, understanding space and experiences through a cultural understanding of the human. I think of conversations with Jennifer as she's writing her new book—which encouraged me to think through informality and its histories, in ways that might shape space and place in my own research.
I don't know if there's a way to replicate our way of being in dialogue...