Global arenas of knowledge


This project explores the dynamics of organised knowledge production on a world scale. The aim of the research is to help build a more democratic, multicentred, model of knowledge. It is informed by Southern Theory (Connell, 2007), a critical analysis of the way the rich countries of the Global North, notably the US, UK, and some member states of the EU, dominate and replicate a certain world view of what constitutes useful and valid knowledge.

Implicit in this is a dynamic process of assimilation: knowledge development in the countries of the Global South is presented with the same production and accumulation processes that exclude and select ideas and practices for the world view of the metropole.

The Global Arenas of Knowledge project equally is concerned to understand the breadth and depth of authentic theory building and contributions to organised knowledge that occur outside the metropoles of the Global North. Indeed, only by making explicit the way knowledge is organised by and for the Global North can alternative knowledge making processes be understood.

The project focuses on three areas of major international scientific significance within the past 30 years – climate change, gender and HIV-AIDS – in three countries on the periphery of the Global North: Brazil, South Africa and Australia.

These domains of knowledge are of global interest but to what extent do their manifestations in the three very different countries conform or diverge? The project explores the shape of organised knowledge domains in these countries by tracing the life histories of selected scholars, and studying publication trends and citation data as well as the infrastructure supporting knowledge production.

Research teams

The research draws together scholars from Australia, South Africa and Brazil – three countries with developing capacities and connections with the global production of knowledge in the metropole.

Australia Brazil South Africa

Professor Raewyn Connell, University of Sydney

Associate Professor Fran Collyer, University of Sydney

Patrick Brownlee, Senior Research Associate, University of Sydney

Tristan Enright, Research Assistant, University of Sydney

Dr João Marcelo Ehlert Maia, Getulio Vargas Foundation

Dr José Renato C. Baptista, Getulio Vargas Foundation

Dr Robert Morrell, Research Office, University of Cape Town

Professor Vanessa Watson, University of Cape Town

Dr Ralph Borland, University of Cape Town


Associate Professor Laura Czerniewicz, Open UCT

Sarah Goodier, University of Cape Town