A research visit to Benin: part 2

Following on from his recent post about the archives in Benin, Prof Tony Chafer shares some more practical advice on conducting researching in this West African country and provides an insight into one community-based development programme operating in the region. I recently went to Benin for the first time for a research trip. The first principle of planning any such trip, for me, is to avoid large international hotels as far as possible. I don’t enjoy them, wherever they are: you could just as easily be in Singapore, or Abuja, or Johannesburg, or Dakar. You end up living in a bubble, isolated from the world around you. So the question was: where to stay? In Porto Novo smaller hotels appeared not to be on the internet, but a short browse revealed something called the Centre Songhai, which seemed to be a kind of alternative technology centre and which had simple rooms for rent at a reasonable price. It proved to be an excellent choice. Not only was it convenient for the researcher – just a short walk from the National Archives and National Library – but it also provided a wonderful exemplar of self-help and community development. Founded by a […]

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“Progress, change and development: past, present and future”: registration open and programme now available

Registration is now open for the 3 day international conference “Progress, change and development: past, present and future” conference, which will take place at University of Portsmouth, 4- 6 June 2015. Please click here to proceed to the conference webpages.  The aim of this interdisciplinary conference is to bring some of the generation who were involved in attempts to bring about change in the 1960s and 1970s together with researchers, theorists, practitioners, activists from the younger generations today. It will examine and debate how progress and development were conceptualised, practised and imagined during the periods of national liberation struggles, of decolonisation and its aftermath, of political and social upheaval and change. It will analyse successes and failures on all levels and explore new ways of thinking that are being developed at the present time, particularly those that break with the prevailing consensus. By bringing the different generations into contact and interaction with each other, it is hoped to create a forum to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and understanding of the earlier period, on the one hand, and the expression and elaboration of new ideas of progress and development and how they might be achieved, on the other. Confirmed speakers include Samir Amin (Third World […]

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