Bellagio Publishing Network  

 BPN Newsletter Issue No 25, July 1999 


African scholarship at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair

Seminar at St Antony's College, Oxford, January 1999

Rachel Wiggans
Rachel Wiggans is Assistant Coordinator, Bellagio Publishing Network

The African scholarship seminar at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) in 1998 aimed to facilitate exchanges between academics in different parts of Africa and the rest of the world. The Fair's interest in promoting African scholarship grew in part from a concern about the lack of communication between those involved in African studies in Africa and those in the north. Although high-quality research is published in books and journals in the south, northern scholars are frequently unaware of it even when publications are easily available in the north.

To prepare for the ZIBF99 African scholarship seminar, William Beinart, who succeeded Terence Ranger as the Rhodes Professor of Race Relations at the University of Oxford, hosted a lively meeting at St Antony's College Oxford in January. Speakers included Dr Alois Mlambo and Sibongile Mhlaba of the University of Zimbabwe, with Professor Terence Ranger in the chair. Some 40 participants, drawn from academia and publishing, contributed to the discussion on how to stimulate south-south and south-north dialogue amongst scholars and publishers and how to strengthen scholarship in Africa.

A major focus of the discussions was the difficulties and dilemmas involved in publishing in African journals, from the point of view both of academics, who need their papers to be published in high-status journals, and of publishers, who face a shortage of high-quality articles. To remedy this northern scholars need to participate in fora organised and run by southern scholars, and southern scholars need to engage with each other. [end] [BPN, no 25, 1999, p 5.]

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