Southern knowledge online? Climate change research discoverability and communication practices

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Information, Communication and Society

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Information, Communication & Society


University of Cape Town

The networked age promises global digital cultures with flattened power relations, given the affordances of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to collapse distance, enable easier cross-country collaborations and create new opportunities for knowledge production and sharing. In the academic domains, indications are that knowledge patterns continue to reflect physically-based geopolitical realities – where knowledge from the South is still peripheral while knowledge from the North still dominates in terms of all the conventional metrics. This study explores the potential role of digital affordances to challenge structural Northern bias and generates questions about knowledge production and dissemination in the climate change knowledge domain. It is framed by the field of scholarly communication within an African setting and by the emergent field of climate change which is fraught with debates and contestations, particularly regarding mitigation and adaptation. It draws on Southern theory which interrogates the global dynamics of knowledge production and dissemination; It explores the intersection of the discoverability and visibility of local climate change research methodologically from the outside in, through an experiment of searches for “climate change / South Africa” and from the inside-out by reviewing the online presence of one climate change group in a top ranked African university