After many years of conducting and presenting my research, much to my Phd supervisors pain, I have encountered a grand variety of responses to it primarily, I believe, because I am American, white and a woman. (maybe also because I am middle-aged but I deny that!!) People have laughed, scoffed, stared and criticized. I, myself wonder about my place in research on Africa.
I remain outside the mainstream and it is sometimes a struggle to do so. What I mean is that I do not rely on World Bank data (if possible) to support my points. I work hard to find African data from reliable African sources that are outside the Development machinery. This can be very time consuming and difficult. What is exactly the point of repeating what the WB said in its 150 page document on the importance of WB policy regarding securities regulation in East Africa.
I also remain outside the mainstream because I have loved Stock Exchanges much longer than I have loved the law. I am having an affair with the law. This results in 'my skin in the game' being different when I conduct legal research. I do not have difficulty finding fault with the law-I enjoy that. However, I do struggle when I it is necessary to admit that exchanges cause harm. Sometimes I have to do that.
Ultimately, I am not wrapped up in the aid industry either. I like Bono and I give to my own African charities. (You KNOW who you ARE!!!) But that giving is not out of guilt and I never EVER wanted to work for the PEACE Corp....ever. I want to understand how we all get along, or don't, when we are all so different and that is ok according to Edward Said.
"We need a different and innovative paradigm for humanistic research. Scholars can be frankly engaged in the politics and interests of the present--with open eyes, rigorous analytical energy, and decently social values of those who are concerned with the survival neither of a disciplinary fiefdom or guild not a manipulative identity like 'India' or 'America,' but with the improvement and non-coercive enhancement of life in a community struggling to exist among other communities. One must not minimize the inventive excavations required in this work."
Said, Culture and Imperialism