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Time as an issue of power in development research

Conference contribution
Authors Helena Kraff
Eva Maria Jernsand
Published in Development research conference (DEVRES) 2016: Global visions and local practices, 22-24 August 2016, Stockholm University
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Business Administration
School of Design and Crafts
Centre for Tourism
Department of Business Administration, Marketing Group
Mistra Urban Futures
Language en
Keywords Development research, transdisciplinary research, north-south collaboration, time inequality
Subject categories Business Administration, Design


Development research addresses issues such as poverty, gender and knowledge access, with the overarching goal of creating fair living conditions for all humans. Transdisciplinary approaches and north-south collaborations are considered suitable ways to approach these challenges. However, there is a risk that current structures make equal partnerships in such collaborations unobtainable. University systems, research and funding programmes as well as the actual processes are generally to the advantage of Western researchers, whilst local researchers and practitioners participate under unjust circumstances. This paper recognizes time as an issue of power in research and development practice through the aspects of time privilege and time poverty. Different time prerequisites produce inequalities between countries, cultures, funding bodies, researchers, organisations, community groups, but also at household and individual levels. It raises questions of who is given time to take part in projects. Who write proposals, conduct fieldwork, analyse and write up the results, and who may need to chase time in order to be able to take part? A collaborative project between research platforms in Sweden and Kenya constitutes an example of how time related barriers and challenges affect relationships between stakeholders. Time inequalities are explored through fieldwork experiences, interviews, and reflective conversations between researchers, practitioners and other actors. If a transdisciplinary approach to development research is about equal partnerships it cannot be based on vague formulations. What type of support structures, guidelines and ethical standards are needed for creating just time preconditions between participants?

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