African women and men are often stereotyped in western media as poor, helpless, and desperate, in the face of major political, environmental, or socio-economic challenges.
The complexity of their daily lives, the visible and hidden drivers of their systematic and systemic marginalization are typically overlooked, as are the skills, knowledge, and agency that disadvantaged populations bring to problem-solving and decision-making processes.
UWA's Centenary Professor Petra Tschakert has been working with disadvantaged rural communities in Ghana, Senegal, and Tanzania, building collaborative learning partnerships with African researchers and students, NGOs, governmental officials, community members, and industries. These partnerships are designed to enhance people's capacities to prepare for and respond to multiple challenges, ranging from barriers to fair and timely climate change adaptation in rain-fed subsistence farming systems to criminalization in the small-scale gold mining sector.
Through these collaborative learning partnerships, Tschakert and her interdisciplinary teams attempt to provide insight into scientific ways of knowing while boosting men's and women’s creative potentials.
However, the collaborative learning network represents not only creative and empowering pathways towards more resilient futures, it has also enabled Tschakert and her colleagues from South Africa, Norway, India, and the United States to explore - 'on site' and in the context of historical drivers of marginalization - the values, attitudes, and motivations of community groups that embark on deliberate social transformation to live more responsible and sustainable lives.
Tschakert is one of the driving forces in UWA's Africa Reserach Cluster whihc was launched on 25 May 2015.