Recognizing and Counteracting Extractivism in Academia and Research Partnerships

Arab Reform Initiative and Rabat Social Studies Institute

Location: NJ Hotel Rabat - 63 Av. Moulay Youssef, Rabat 10020

The conference agenda is available for download via this link

The concept of extractivism in academic research involves exploitative practices of knowledge production with individuals and communities that are marginalized or in asymmetrical power dynamics in the academic market. Imbued in neocolonial epistemology and often disproportionately affecting academics and communities in the Global South, extractivism in research can take a variety of forms, ranging from how data is gathered and analyzed, the role of the “local” in research partnerships, the communication of research results, and publication processes. Extractive research is marked by the disproportionality of who benefits from research, whether in terms of compensation, credit for and acknowledgement of contribution, or intellectual property rights. Extractivist research serves to benefit the academic and their career, or western academic institutions, while offering little by way of outcome or even reciprocity to research partners or the research participants themselves.

This workshop aims to address the issue of extractivism in academia within the Middle East, where dynamics of exploiting knowledge and different forms of immaterial resources from marginalized communities and research partners persist. This includes the challenges Middle East academics face in navigating extractive practices, which can exacerbate existing inequalities and power imbalances while also inadvertently contributing to orientalist knowledge production. The discussion aims to promote an understanding of decolonial ethics in research, emphasizing the principles of engaged scholarship and collaborative knowledge production, along with an exploration of non-traditional professional pathways, as practices that scholars can employ to combat extractivism. By acknowledging and addressing extractivism within the region, academics in the Middle East can contribute to broader efforts to decolonize knowledge and dismantle the exploitative structures of academia.

The workshop will be a closed event and targets in particular early career scholars. The working languages of the workshop will be English and Arabic, with simultaneous translation available.


9:00 a.m.–9:15 am: Opening Remarks and Introductions

A brief overview of the workshop’s format and goals will be presented, along with a brief introduction of all participants.

9:15 am–10:30 am: Panel Discussion: Introducing Concepts: Extractivism, Decolonial Research Ethics, and Engaged Scholarship

This panel will provide an overview of key concepts within the discussion of neocoloniality and extractivism in academic research, and will provide concrete examples of such practices and the variety of underlying factors which allow for their reproduction. In addition, the panel will present alternative methodological approaches and inclusive research design practices that can counter extractivist tendencies, and will present case studies of engaged scholarship and activist-research.

Following the panel presentations, the floor will be opened to discussion.

  • Dr. Saloua Zerhourni, Université Mohammed V
  • Dr. Rola El Husseini, Lund University
  • Dr. Zakaria Ibrahimi, Université Cadi Ayyad
  • Dr. Sarah Anne Rennick, Arab Reform Initiative

10:30am-10:45am: Coffee Break

10:45 am–11:45 am: Breakaway Session: Recognizing Extractivism, Exploring Alternatives

Participants will be broken into four breakaway groups and will engage in reflections on terms like democratization of knowledge, intersectionality, and reflexivity, while considering how social identities, epistemic hierarchies, and the market of knowledge production may impact their own academic and professional careers. Each breakaway group, to be moderated by one of the panelists, will nominate a rapporteur who will take notes of the discussion. At the end of the session, each rapporteur will present a summary of the discussion to the full group.

11:45 a.m.–12:00 pm: Closing Remarks