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EUniWell 2023 | Decentering Epistemologies for Global Well-Being

The blogs of the participants: from knowledge users to knowledge producers

The Decentring Epistemologies for Global Well-being project, a Virtual Online International Collaborative Exchange (VOICE), was organized by six coordinators and six facilitators of the Universities of Birmingham, Cologne and Leiden in Europe, Nairobi, Rabat and Western Cape in Africa.

More than sixty participants investigated the concept of well-being from different perspectives and contexts, through synchronous and asynchronous activities and across three different themes: environment, intersectionality, and knowledge. “The project invites us to question established ways of knowing, and to make academic co-operation work, in order to strive for different forms of knowledge”, said one of the coordinators, Professor Martin Zillinger. The joint effort and collaboration of the participants, their passion and willingness to critically explore their surroundings through flash ethnographies, to collectively share and discuss their findings, enabled a cross-continental and interdisciplinary exchange that shifted their position from knowledge users to knowledge producers.

Participants were invited to write individual and collective blogs published on the University of Birmingham webpage.

Below is information on the three themes and the team's contacts.

1.  Environment and Well-Being

Thematic Lead: University of Birmingham and University of Nairobi

Coordinators: Prof. Dr. Francis Pope and Prof. Dr. Anna Kamau

Facilitators: Dr. Carlo Luiu and Raphael Indimuli

The environment is a key but often underappreciated factor for urban wellbeing and health. Vulnerability to the environment is a function of where one lives, works, socialises and how one travels in between these activities. To determine the most important measures of these interrelationships requires an integrated and interdisciplinary understanding of perspectives for liveable environments, working for all regardless of gender, age and social status. This module explores and reflect upon the intersectionality between environment and mobility and understand to what extent such a relationship impacts the well-being of communities, individuals and varying socio-demographic groups and categories. The focus is on issues concerning four interconnected themes: 1) air and noise pollution; 2) transport decarbonization; 3) local environmental problems/conflicts and 4) environmental and transportation justice. These topics are explored from the global to the local scale, drawing from examples and case studies based on the participants’ contexts and background.

see Overview on "Environment and Well-Being" on the University of Birmingham webpage.


Selected posts on "Environment and Wellbeing" from students and researchers of DoSCA  (UoC)

2.  Intersectionality and Well-Being

Thematic Lead: Leiden University and University of the Western Cape

Coordinators: Prof. Dr. Marleen Dekker and Prof. Dr. William Ellis

Teaching Fellows: Madi Ditmars and Tihana Nathen

Intersectionality is an approach to tackle the social injustice created through oppression and marginalisation. It offers a new way to think about the complexities that multiple identities bring about as acts of racism, classism, sexism, etc. It is a framework to analyse how aspects of a person's social and political identities combine to create modes of discrimination and privilege with a focus on access to education and employment. Critical introspection of how individuals as part of institutions, as well as how the institutions themselves produce, maintain, and benefit from systems of oppression is necessary for global well-being to be realised.

see Overview on "Intersectionality and Well-Being" on the University of Birmingham webpage.


Selected posts on "Intersectionality and Well-Being" from students and researchers of DoSCA (UoC)

3. Knowledge and Well-Being

Thematic Lead: University of Cologne and Université Mohammed V de Rabat

Coordinators: Prof. Dr. Martin Zillinger and Prof. Badiha Nahhass

Teaching Fellows: Emanuele De Simone and Intissar Louah


Forms of classification and knowledge must become subject of critical thinking in order to be de-centred. To do so, this theme explores the notion of heritage and its connectedness to well-being through the lens of critical heritage studies.

UNESCO definition of cultural heritage includes a number of tangible and intangible elements that are difficult to define through a single concept. It is no coincidence that Rodney Harrison's (2013) introduction is entitled “Heritage: everywhere”. However, what does the heritage discourse entail? On the one hand, it entails the need to preserve the past. On the other hand, it entails the need for transformation that is part of every society. Heritage is in the in-between, constituting a paradox or at least a difficult knot to untangle. Especially if we think about all the different actors who are part of the “heritagization” process: from the local people to different institutional levels. According to Harrison (2013:5), “the concept of heritage not only encompasses a nation’s relationship to history and history-making, but also refers increasingly to the ways in which a broad range of other constituencies are involved in the production of the past in the present”. Even more important, “heritage is not a passive process of simply preserving things from the past that remain, but an active process of assembling a series of objects, places and practices that we choose to hold up as a mirror to the present, associated with a particular set of values that we wish to take with us into the future” (2013:4). To prepare the path, four fields of research have been chosen, partly following the UNESCO definition already mentioned: 1. intangible heritage, 2. museums, 3. memorials, and 4. natural and urban landscapes.

see Overview on "Knowledge and Well-Being" on the University of Birmingham webpage.


Selected posts on "Knowledge and Well-Being" from students and researchers of DoSCA (UoC)