04 SES 11 C, Decision-Making, Cooperation And Other Paradoxes Of Promoting Inclusion
A transnational higher education research collaboration by the Austrian Development Cooperation, brought together three Ethiopian universities: Addis Ababa University, University of Gondar and Dilla University as well as the University of Vienna in Austria. The collaboration aimed at tackling educational challenges of persons with disabilities in Ethiopia. A further objective of the project was to find a joint understanding of disability research practice by looking at contexts, and effects that emerge while focussing on global South and global North.
At the core of the presentation lies a reflection of theoretical approaches to disability research in relation to the institutional contexts/practices and collaboration structures based on European and African perspectives. Group discussions and an open questionnaire among team members from Austria and Ethiopia have been used to reflect on the relevance of different perceptions of disability/approaches to disability research in the transnational collaboration as well as the awareness of possible different perceptions.
Following the research question about the relevance and role of different perceptions of disability and disability research in international collaborations, a qualitative approach has been selected for data collection and analysis, using group discussions and an open questionnaire as means of data collection. The questionnaire has been jointly developed by members of the three universities and contains open questions on aspects of joint research and project activities, concepts of disability, and research methodology. Selected questions from the questionnaire have been used for the group discussion in order to further elaborate on specific aspects. In total the data (11 questionnaires and 1 transcript of the group discussion) was analysed using a Grounded Theory approach (Charmaz 2006). In line with the research question, a specific focus has been given to reconstruct the notions of North-South within the data (Wrana 2015). Joint interpretation sessions have been the main mode of data analysis.
While different perspectives on disability and disability research can be identified in the data, they can only in part be linked to the perceptions of distinct Northern and/or Southern approaches. On the one hand, disability research is mostly based on methodological and theoretical frameworks developed by scholars from academia in Northern countries. It is observed that Ethiopian theorists (on disability, education, philosophy) are considered not to play an important role in disability research, thus post-colonial observations become relevant to the engagement with the data material. On the other hand, team members articulate common dilemmas that are shared within the collaborative research. They can be arranged and intersect along a range of spheres, such as types of knowledge (traditional or modern, Northern or Southern), models of disability (charity or rights based), personal positioning and the institutional contexts (government, academia, religious institutions). The presentation will elaborate on the spectrum of knowledge and its links to concepts of disability and the practice of disability research as experienced by the team of researchers from Ethiopia and Austria.
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