Foucault, Pollyanna and the Iraq Research Fellowship Programme: political grace and the struggle to decolonise research practice

Michele Moore, Heather Brunskell-Evans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics in the United Kingdom launched a specific programme called the Iraq Research Fellowship Programme (IRFP) in late 2006 at the height of an Iraqi assassination campaign against academics. Whilst the programme's aims are laudable and its results utterly worthwhile, this article explores, from the point of view of two British female academics, somewhat unexpected by-products in its power dynamics. The different cultural contexts of Iraq and the West mean that Iraqi and Western scholars find themselves differently placed with regard to privilege in their collaboration. The power relations between the Western academics themselves and the different roles they play within the IRFP are characterised by issues of gender and status hierarchy. The theoretical approach the authors take to understand the micropolitics of the IRFP is a post-structuralist feminist one, in particular the post-structuralism influenced by the work of Michel Foucault. The authors argue that the micropolitics of gender, status hierarchy, the West and Iraq present within the IRFP are those acted out in the macro context of Western and Middle Eastern politics. In doing so, the authors suggest, following Foucault's precept that ethics involves the praxis of 'changing the subject', that the deployment of a 'politics of grace' is a primary resource for transformative research fellowship in international collaboration and that, on this foundation, Iraqi re-engagement with research and teaching can be truly facilitated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-75
JournalPower and Education
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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