The misplaced arrogance of western academia when dealing with scholars from the global south

We are in a situation of oppression by outsiders interested in extracting the knowledge we have without caring about who we ARE. This string of emails is a small demonstration of what insurgency looks like. There is at least one African scholar who won’t take this any more;

Sent: Friday, February 9, 2024 1:56:03 pm
To: <>; <>
Subject: Invitation to Geography Seminar Series, University of Sheffield

Dear Dr. Mordecai Ogada,

We’re writing to you as the convenors of the Human Geography seminar series in the Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, UK. We’d like to invite you to present your research at a seminar for our staff and students in 2024. If you’re interested, we’d like to offer you the opportunity to present online.

Our seminar series is a key part of the research culture of the department and draws an audience of postgraduate students and staff. Seminars are typically around 1.5 hours long and held on Wednesday afternoons/ lunchtimes, which we find works well for attendance. 

The dates we have available are: May 1st or May 22nd 2024. Do let us know if one of these works for you. Any questions, please let us know!

Best wishes


On Fri, 9 Feb 2024 at 18:25, <> wrote:

Hi XXXX, thanks for your message and the invitation. However, I don’t think an online lunchtime talk is a platform worthy of my academic engagement with the University of Sheffield, given the depth and breadth of my work over 25 years. I would rather be invited for a structured lecture visit where I can give  a few lectures and engage with your students and faculty. In that way, I can also gain academically/ professionally, unlike an online lecture, which is a one-sided exercise,  beneficial only to the university. 



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Sent: Wednesday, February 14, 2024 6:19:31 pm
To: <>
Cc: XXXXXXX>; <>
Subject: Re: Invitation to Geography Seminar Series, University of Sheffield

Dear Mordecai,

Thanks for your response. We understand your position and we regret to say that we’re unable to offer you a structured lecture visit.

The scope of our seminars are designed for a small group of staff and students – because our department is small – who are interested in your field. We understand if that’s not amenable to you. However should you be interested, we are able to offer you a £50 fee for the recognition of your engagement and time spent preparing.



Dear XXXXXX, I’ve read this message a number of times, and I am still baffled at how to deal such an insult. My conclusion is that you don’t think I am worthy of a structured educational engagement,  because I am sure that the university of Sheffield does have visiting scholars. I would understand if your email even suggested that we try and find funding to do it sometime later, but you didn’t, because to you, what I may have to share academically is only worth lunchtime entertainment,  when nobody has anything better to do.

Secondly,  what do you think/ expect me to do with 50 quid?🤣 kudos, I didn’t think it was possible to make your message more ridiculous,  but you did. At UK labour costs, If the tap in the lunch room was leaking, would £50 get a plumber to fix it? Anyway, I have some material for my ongoing blogs about disrespect for scholars from the global south by westen universities. I don’t know what ilk of academics you are, but next time,  do listen to yourselves.


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