The Southpaw and The Global Knowledge Order - British Library Research Repository
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Conference paper (unpublished)

The Southpaw and The Global Knowledge Order


This paper considers the special challenges of creating and accessing knowledge material relating to the global South, especially from locations in the South. The imbalance between North and South in the creation of knowledge resources is linked to their unequal access to extant resources, but the link is not always direct or proportionate. The imbalance of access is largely owing to the cost. The ‘Open Access’ scheme might appear to redress the balance, but only by making active contributions by scholars of the South that much more difficult.

The imbalance might be addressed by creating more and more freely-accessed databases of knowledge resources in the South, independently or in association with institutions in the North. Once the volume and importance of Southern material is globally established, its editing and analysis will follow, especially if supported by a formal agenda. Publishing the output of that research will pose another set of challenges in view of the unequal knowledge order. As partial solutions, this paper proposes some models of electronic publication, though e-publishing itself still stands somewhat in the position of a ‘South’ to the ‘North’ of print publication.

South-oriented archiving, research and publishing in the electronic medium can set up a new model for the pursuit of knowledge, though the model is already familiar in the South in pre-digital formats. It is a more open, socially oriented structure, accommodating wider public participation alongside formal academic activity. This alternative ethos of inquiry can be the most distinctive contribution of Southern scholarship and publishing to the global knowledge order.


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