A Space for Unlearning? A Relational Perspective on North–South Development Research

Sarah C. White

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

12 Citations (SciVal)


The politics of knowledge is a foundational issue in development research. This includes questioning the processes through which knowledge is produced and the terms of the ‘partnerships’ or ‘collaborations’ involved. Such analyses tend to emphasise structural difference and can reproduce all too familiar tropes of dominating global North and deficit global South. This paper takes instead a relational perspective to investigate how such notions are generated, sustained and may be contested through interactions between people, and between people and their contexts. For data, the paper draws on experiences and observations related in a 2018–2019 workshop series on international collaborations in development research. It argues the need to go beyond a focus on ‘mentoring’ or ‘capacity building’ to explore the interactive generation of researcher selves; temper commitments to generalisability with recognition of the inherent value of the particular; and pay more attention to the unintended outcomes of research, and especially its production of waste.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-502
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Journal of Development Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2020


  • Collaboration
  • International development research
  • Partnerships
  • Relational social science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development


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