The University of Cologne’s International Forum is awarding five project grants (€ 15,000 each) annually for project-related innovative tandem collaborations between University of Cologne-based academics and international researchers, who will take on a leading role in the collaboration. This year, the tandem of Dr. Richard Kiaka (Centre for Wildlife Management Studies) and Dr. Hauke-Peter Vehrs (Future Rural Africa Project A04 “Future Conservation” were awarded a grant for their project proposal “Mtu ni Watu – Disclosing Hidden Stories of Fieldwork”. The project focuses on research assistants, whose contributions to the successful completion of a research poject are sometimes overlooked, despite playing a major role. They act as cultural brokers, guide researchers in their daily struggles, translate and interpret languages, manage the complexities and challenges of fieldwork, and offer counsel in critical situations. Many assistants also become associates and co-producers of scientific knowledge.
The aim of the tandem project is to amplify the voices of field assistants in anthropological research by producing a documentary film and scientific toolbox centered around the long-term partnerships established between Richard Kiaka, Beatrice Taipo and Francis Nkadao, and between Hauke-Peter Vehrs and Charles Lorot during their respective fieldwork in Kenya. The goal is to make the assistant-researcher relation accessible to a scientific audience and broader public, taking into account decolonial critique on the often lopsided relations between Global South and Global North.