The political economy of critical knowledge: Producing and limiting endogenous social sciences in Tanzania and Ecuador

Maria Cristina Cielo, Jorge Daniel Vásquez, Pedro Bravo


This article focuses on the policies by which social sciences that analyse unequal international relations are both shaped and diminished in the provincial universities of two developing countries. We examine key moments in the development and limitation of critical social sciences in Tanzania and Ecuador. In both these places, important perspectives on international political and economic structures emerged that attended to their situated socio-cultural and epistemological dimensions. In the context of Tanzania’s strong state-university relations, state policies of higher education limited critical political economic approaches through their market submission. Within Ecuador’s historically antagonistic state-university relations, such limitations are enacted through homogenizing regulations. Based on archival research and interviews at each site, our comparison of the domestication of critical knowledge production in these two provincial universities on different continents of the global south allows us to understand how national policies limit possibilities for the social sciences to scrutinize the political economies that shape them.


social science research, higher education, development, global south

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