Researchers join hands to ‘decolonise’ research approaches

Researchers from various universities in a workshop session at the University of Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The scholars from UDSM and universities in Sweden, Mali, and Burkina Faso shared their insights yesterday pertaining to the need to break away from the traditional, often colonial, methods of conducting research.

Dar es Salaam. Researchers from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) have joined hands with scholars from five international institutions in re-thinking research approaches to enhance their relevance to the communities they serve.

A week-long workshop, titled “Decolonizing Research Methodologies,” taking place this week at UDSM has set the stage for a paradigm shift in the way research is perceived and undertaken and its impact on local communities.

The scholars from UDSM and universities in Sweden, Mali, and Burkina Faso shared their insights yesterday pertaining to the need to break away from the traditional, often colonial, methods of conducting research.

The Dean of the Department of Social Sciences at UDSM, Prof Christine Noe, emphasised the urgency of adopting new research methods that align with the current global landscape.

She pointed out that traditional research often entailed outsiders conducting studies in a community without involving the locals, which resulted in ineffective outcomes for the community.

“Even though we have been doing research, in today’s world, we must change the way we approach research to foster creativity and develop solutions that benefit society,” Prof Noe stated.

The workshop is dedicated to cultivating a generation of researchers who think differently about their research methodologies. This shift is essential because the world is evolving, and researchers must adapt to new ways of conducting their work to stay relevant.

Coordinator of the Society and Religion Research Centre (SORRECE), Dr Thomas Ndaluka, revealed that the project’s collaboration with six institutions from Sweden, Mali, and Burkina Faso aimed to elevate the thinking and performance of researchers.

“The goal is to ensure that our research is realistic and beneficial to the communities we study. We need to create knowledge collaboratively, addressing social issues using bottom-up approaches,” Dr Ndaluka explained.

He emphasised that by collaborating with local communities, researchers can discover effective solutions to address specific challenges.

A professor of cultural anthropology at Uppsala University, Sweden, Prof Sten Hagberg, emphasised the importance of reflecting on the way research is conducted. He highlighted the need to broaden perspectives and ensure diverse voices are included in academic research.

“We need to do better research, and one way to achieve this is by reflecting on our research methods and incorporating local knowledge and assistance. Universities have been shaped by colonial experiences, resulting in many perspectives being overlooked in academic research,’’ he asserted.

UDSM’s Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research, Prof Nelson Boniface, underlined the responsibility of researchers to break away from colonial thinking and add to the real needs of existing communities.

He stressed the importance of solving these needs in a modern, collaborative manner.

Education experts also weighed in on the significance of decolonizing research methodologies for the betterment of communities.


An expert in education and community development, Dr Margreth Byemela, applauded the initiative and its potential to benefit local communities.

“Decolonizing research methodologies is crucial because it empowers communities to actively participate in the research process,” Dr Byemela told The Citizen.

He noted that the new approaches would enable researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the community’s unique challenges, leading to more effective and context-specific solutions.

An education policy analyst, Dr Joseph Mkama, also noted that decolonizing research methodologies could help bridge the gap between academia and local communities.

“By involving the community in the research process, we can ensure that the solutions developed are practical and address the actual needs of the people,” he told The Citizen.

He added: “By breaking away from colonial practices and adopting modern, community-oriented approaches, researchers would be in a position to produce research that is more inclusive, relevant, and beneficial to the societies they serve and not the donors or funders,” he said.