Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

A Diopian Analysis of the Symbolisms of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

A Diopian Analysis of the Symbolisms of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa

Article excerpt

Introduction

That the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), "a pan-African institution established by African researchers in 1973 out of a desire to build an autonomous scientific community that is capable of interpreting social realities in Africa and contributing to debates on global issues" (Sall, 2012), has emerged as a major symbol of development in the African continent and its Diaspora is hardly a matter of dispute (Cobb and Elder, 1983). This assertion is confirmed by the fact that in 2013, CODESRIA was given the Latin American and Caribbean Regional Integration Award by the Latin American Social Science Council in recognition of the work that the organization has contributed over the years in promotion of regional integration through research and South-South cooperation (CODESRIA, 2013). Also, in 2014, the Think Tank and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania in the United States, which ranked approximately 6,600 think tanks in 182 countries, designated CODESRIA as the 4th think tank in Africa south of the Sahara, 120th in the world, 27th in international development, 38th for the most significant impact on public policy in the world, 39th with the best trans-disciplinary research program in the world, and the 45th for the best advocacy campaign in the world (McGann, 2015).

Furthermore, a Google Internet search with the name Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa on December 16, 2015 yielded about 19,300,000 results in 0.55 seconds. Compare CODESRIA's record with those of the other four among the top five think tanks in Africa, and one finds that (1) Kenya Institute for International Affairs, established in 1997 and ranked first, with approximately 1,690,000 results in 0.72 seconds; (2) IMANI Center for Policy and Education, launched in 2004 and ranked second, with around 178,000 results in 0.55 seconds; (3) South African Institute of International Affairs, founded in 1934 and ranked third, with roughly 15,100,000 results in 0.52 seconds; and (4) Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis, set up in 1995 and ranked fifth, with circa 804,000 results in 0.49 seconds. In essence, the lengths of existence of these organizations do not seem to correlate with their Internet results. Despite the abundant recognition and attention CODESRIA has been receiving, however, no systematic work exists on the symbolisms of the organization, which has emerged as one of the major symbols of development in Africa and its Diaspora. This study therefore attempts to fill this void. To do so, the paper probes the following two major research questions: (1) What does CODESRIA symbolize to its members? (2) What do CODESRIA's symbols represent? In order to systematically address these questions, the rest of the paper is divided into four interrelated sections: (1) Diopian Methodology, (2) Data Collection Techniques and Sources, (3) Data Analysis, and (4) a Conclusion. Additionally, a brief discussion on the import of symbols is warranted, since they are the crux topic of this paper.

Symbols, as some scholars have observed, are critical in promoting social integration, fostering legitimacy, inducing loyalty, gaining compliance, and providing citizens with security and hope (e.g., Edelmam, 1964; Jones, 1964, Merelman, 1966, Cobb and Elder, 1976; Elder and Cobb, 1983). As I have also pointed out, symbols yield deeper dyadic, triadic and polyadic meanings because they convey not only surface contents, but a great deal of auxiliary information as well (Bangura, 2002a & 2002b). Thus, the major thesis in this paper is that analyses of symbols that fail to account for pragmatic features--i.e. "the choices language users make, the constraints they encounter in using language in social interactions, and the effects their uses of language have on other participants in an act of communication" (Morris, 1938:301; also cited in Bangura, 2015a)--risk ignoring relevant contents that may be central to the symbols' meanings. …

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