Yes, definitely. The archive provides the technical scaffolding for articulating ourselves as a community of scholar activists / activist scholars interested in exploring what it might look like to decolonize knowledge infrastructure and create relations and systems that are regenerative rather than extractive. It’s not to say that the people who are part of the RDS archive were not already doing important work on these topics. But coming together to articulate a collective interest and goals is an attempt to create space for an ongoing conversation and experimentation for new ways to address what is seen as a long-standing issue.
As a research interlocutor (who is now an active member of RDS) mentioned in a recorded interview that we had prior to the establishment of the RDS working group: “I feel so...I feel so alone. Like I'm a solo voice. And I feel deeply I'm speaking something that makes sense. But I just feel because I'm solo. I'm not in an institution of higher learning, [or] in a very big institution, I feel my voice may not be heard. So I...it's either I use this [RDS digital platform] to, to sort of amplify my voice or see how I can create a community of... but it's kind of...feels so slowly... it feels so big for me. But so important. So I mean that... And maybe this is how...one way my voice as a solo person, interested in higher education...because normally people approached it as institutionally, let's solve this but as an individual, I still feel you can see a problem in...in an institution and want to do something but maybe this is one way…” (EA-KW-A-M-03 7:10).
Like Tim mentioned here when he reflected on this same set of questions in the context of his Formosa Archive, I don’t want to discount the important work already going on. In Kenya, critiques regarding asymmetric knowledge relations have been circulating (for quite some time now). For some recent examples, see this 2019 event, which I attended in person and this event which, under COVID-times was largely attended virtually. That said, although global knowledge asymmetries are familiar to the Kenyan public, the public that the RDS archive aspires to create is one that pulls in these various actors into a bigger heterogenous group that speaks across disciplinary differences and expertise. We are also walking the tight-rope between both critical study of and attempts at producing something different differently.