07 SES 07 B, Multilingualism and Plurilingual Research
This paper aims to discuss the internationalization of research teams by focusing on plurilingualism, intercultural communication/interaction and intercultural epistemological translation carried out by research groups while performing their research tasks. It will describe the procedures and analyse the outcomes of a research project, carried out in Brazil for two years under the auspices of a Marie Sklodowska-Curie 3 year grant, meant to stimulate research team members to engage into critical meta-reflection upon their research work with regard to the issues mentioned above. The study comprised a small sample of 5 research teams, both in the Social Sciences and in the Life Sciences, in 3 different public universities in the states of São Paulo and Bahia. The argument is that a scientific model has been imposed through all kinds of evaluation procedures and strengthened by the globalized idea of an “entrepreneurial university” (Barnett, 2011), and English language has been used as a powerful vehicle for this purpose (Guilherme, 2007). However, since the late sixties, academics have considered the incorporation of new possibilities in a movement that is expanding and globalizing (Santos, 2007a/b; 2009, 2010a/b). In the meantime, academics involved in international research projects have attempted to translate and negotiate the complexity of meanings both for work concepts and for interaction principles, whose practices and remaining difficulties at the grassroots level need to be given scientific visibility. The “north/south” metaphor shall be adopted here in order to represent different world visions, a variety of knowledge producing frameworks, as well as different perspectives about concepts such as multiculturalism, interculturality and the transcultural. There have also been several Latin American authors developing this metaphor in a critique of Eurocentric imposed views (e.g. Estermann, 2010; Mignolo, 2000, 2011).
This paper will firstly examine, on the whole, the research methodologies used in this study, namely document analysis, overt direct observation, individual semi-structured and focus-group interviews and, finally, building grounded theory. Secondly, it will closely analyse the various steps of the PI’s empirical work with each research group, namely: (1) individual meetings with the research group members; (2) documental analysis (project proposal, reports, publications); (3) interview guide - proposal and feedback; (4) final focus-group interview; (5) interdisciplinary event (UFBA). Finally the response of the research groups members to ‘research on research’ and, therefore, to the proposed meta-reflection on their research tasks, from the perspective of the GLOCADEMICS project, will be closely taken into account. The perplexity that, on the whole, hosted this empirical work will be critically looked upon, as well as the wide range of interest levels from ‘much interest’, ‘interest’, ‘acceptance’, ‘discomfort’ to ‘negation’ it arose. And finally the acknowledgment that after all it had been helpful to regard their research tasks from another perspective, which had been ignored or intuitively solved, but that shows relevance and impact on their research tasks. The critical analysis of the methodologies and procedures of this empirical work will build upon the theoretical framework mentioned above in addition to bibliography on research methods that has provided some critique of the research methods well established in the academy, that however run behind the intercultural and plurilingual challenges of contemporary research work. This research work aims at providing a critical basis for the construction of an ‘ecology of knowledges’, as proposed by Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2010b). Among the five ecologies identified by the author, “the ecology of knowledges”, calling for the validation of previously discredited knowledge(s) that may offer alternative criteria of rigour, illustrates the kind of change in attitudes that such an epistemological operation entails.
BARNETT, R. (2011) Being a University. London: Routledge. GUILHERME, M. (2007) English as a global language and education for cosmopolitan citizenship. In Language and Intercultural Communication, 7:1, 72-79 MIGNOLO, W. D. (2000) Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. MIGNOLO, W. D. (2011) The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global futures, decolonial options. Durham: Duke University Press. SANTOS, B. S. (orgs.) (2007a), Another Knowledge is Possible. Beyond Northern Epistemologies. Londres: Verso. SANTOS, B. S. (orgs.) (2007b). Cognitive Justice in a Global World: Prudent Knowledge for a Decent Life. Lanham: Lexington. SANTOS, B. S. (2009) Una epistemología del Sur: la reinvención del conocimiento y la emancipación social. México: CLACSO & Siglo XXI. SANTOS, B. S. (2010a) Descolonizar el saber, reinventar el poder. Montevideo: Ediciones Trilce. SANTOS, B. S. (2010b) Refundación del Estado en América Latina. Perspectivas desde una epistemología del Sur. Lima: Instituto Internacional de Derecho y Sociedad.
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