The White Boffin's Burden

The Centre for New Writing is pleased to announce a new creative commission in collaboration with the University’s Research and Enterprise Division. The winning entrant will write and perform a five-minute stand-up comedy routine, which will be filmed with a live audience. The video will be shown alongside “talking heads” of research pioneers from all over the world.

About the commission

Research Councils recently received money to allow British academics to forge partnerships with their counterparts in countries which receive official development assistance (ODA), such as Afghanistan, Bolivia, Haiti and Uganda. The commissioned stand-up routine will combat common prejudices about the quality, range and significance of current research in ODA-listed countries. A team of academics will advise the commissioned writer about the sorts of prejudices that they wish to combat.

The challenge which this commission addresses

Many British academics are considering collaborating with researchers based in ODA-listed countries for the first time. Inexperience, and Britain’s colonial legacy, occasionally produces unexamined assumptions about the calibre of academics based in ODA-listed countries. Common assumptions include:

  • British research is superior to research carried out in ODA-listed countries.
  • UK academics should be the senior partner in projects focused on ODA-listed countries.
  • The citizens of ODA-listed countries are less complex and more readily classified than Britons.
  • The problems of ODA-listed countries cannot be solved by research collaborations.
  • British academics have all the solutions: these simply need translating into foreign languages and implementing overseas.