A special issue of the journal Global Social Welfare, titled “Equity, Collaboration, and Empowerment in Mental Health Research Partnerships” highlights experiences and issues in North-South research collaborations from across the world.
The special issue was developed by a team from the Brown School’s SMART Africa Center, and it was edited by Brown School Research Assistant Professor Ozge Sensoy Bahar, as well as Manasi Kumar, from the Center’s Kenya team at University of Nairobi, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Nairobi.
“The project was born as a platform to think critically about issues of equity, power and collaboration in the context of increasing north-south collaborations in the global mental health research,” said Kumar.
The partnerships and collaborations, the team explained, are often silent in questioning oppressive practices and problematic unethical or inequities.
“There is a growing trend to include Southern researchers in the publications and research processes, but without a true dialogue around cross-cultural synergies,” added Sensoy Bahar.
Both researchers noted that the other trend was to praise the local partners in local meetings without actually embracing them in more global and advanced forums. These attitudes, they added, perpetuate injustice and inequity given the historical landscape of colonization and collective oppression of the South.
To dismantle these practices, the issue offers the following takeaways:
- Partnerships should prioritize and invest in a bi-directional exchange and learning models that step away from solely valuing western paradigms, knowledge and practices.
- Research agendas should allow significant leadership by the global South team.
- The field needs to develop global ethics-in-practice dialogues where practices are deliberated, and concepts and definitions articulated collaboratively and inclusively.