Geopolitics of Academic Production

The Big Question

Our inquiry into the geopolitics of knowledge production arises from broader questions concerning representation and marginalization within processes of global knowledge production. We are interested in understanding whether there is an unequal and under representation of academic content produced in and by “Global South” researchers and if so, we are interested in understanding the various mechanisms and power dimensions through which such structures of inequality and exclusion are actively produced, reproduced and embedded in the global publishing system. In this case, we would also like to examine the implications of such inequalities in regards to diversity of knowledge, cognitive justice, equitable collaboration and sustainable development at large.

Where are we?

The research is hosted at the Centre for Critical Development Studies (CCDS) at the University of Toronto, Scarborough and this work is affiliated with the Open Science and Development Network (OCSDnet). As an interdisciplinary and international research network, OCSDnet is also investigating the nature of global knowledge production and whether open science practices challenge existing institutional power asymmetries or whether these new framings and practices further marginalize knowledge makers from the non-hegemonic countries.


We acknowledge that productions of inequalities often occur in spaces characterized by a constant interplay of actors and power imbalances at global, national, and local levels. As a research group positioned in a northern institution it is imperative to consider the ways in which our position as northern researchers is also contributing to the geopolitics of knowledge production.

As students, researchers and professors within the university setting we are actively immersed in the knowledge production cycle and as a result are inherent contributors and stakeholders of the academic publishing industry. In many of the social sciences and specifically in the field of development studies we are constantly analyzing and exposing seemingly inherent power structures in relation to their history and context. Yet many of us rarely apply similar power analysis to the academic publishing industry that we are a part of. As part of our broader research question, we will also examine the role of northern institutions and researchers within the complex academic publishing microcosm and its implications for inequalities in global patterns of knowledge production.

Current Projects & Areas of Interest

The research group currently consists of a series of projects that are all contributing to our main query through different dimensions and relevant sub questions. Below are descriptions of the various projects as well as additional areas of interest:

  1. Mapping the Geography of Knowledge Production in Development Studies

This project examines content and geographic diversity in development studies journals. It has two main goals: (1) to determine the patterns of contributions of Northern and Southern researchers in development journals published in the global North and (2), to identify the ways their involvement or lack thereof shape knowledge production.

  1. Rent Seeking and Financialization of the Academic Publishing Industry 

This project is looking to examine various dimensions of the economic/business behavior of the academic publishing industry through a closer look at its top five players. The project hypothesis that concentration in the industry has occurred alongside increasing role of financial players, instruments, and behaviors. As a result, the main goal is to examine patterns of rent seeking, financialization and monopolistic behavior within the industry in order to understand their implications in the production of inequalities and vulnerabilities in knowledge production

  1. Knowledge, Power and Inequality in Open Science Policies 

This is a joint research project led by G.A.P. in collaboration with OCSDNet, the Open and Collaborative Science in Development Network. The project seeks to investigate the structures of power and inequality in knowledge production and policymaking, using the construction of the Open Science discourse as a case study. By tracing the key players behind the formation and dissemination of Open Science policies and documents, we want to question the ideological foundations at the core of this discourse, and the impact this may have on reinforcing global knowledge inequality in the scientific and development fields.

4. Additional Areas of Interest

While data is being collected on the previous two strands, there are several other potential areas of study that would enhance our research. For example, under the theoretical umbrella of ‘technologies of control’, we would like to understand trade, antitrust, and intellectual property policies and the restrictions they pose. Furthermore, we are also curious to know whether the increased prevalence of digital labour, for example, constitutes academic publishing as an extractive industry. If these areas are of interest, please do not hesitate to contact us!

Get Involved 

This list of ongoing projects and areas of interest is by no means exhaustive and we are actively looking for people that are interested in participating in any of them or in proposing new ones.  Whether you’re a first-year undergraduate student or in grad school, we are always looking to welcome new research members! For current students, this can also be a great opportunity to not only be recipients of knowledge but to also actively participate in the critical inquiry as to the conditions and forms in which such knowledge is produced. For more information, please do contact us.