The modern field of research ethics started in Western institutions and is largely based onindividualistic principles like bodily autonomy. Although this approach is reasonable in individualistic settings, it has proven to be deficient in communalist settings such as found across Africa. In communalist settings, the individual is integrally located and anchored in a mesh of relationships within the family, village, clan (living and dead), and the environment – all of which are primordial sources of that person’s physical, psychic, and spiritual wellbeing. While autonomy is important, it can be inordinately emphasized if it is not placed within the broader context of family, village, and clan. Hence, in developing research ethics for Africa, we must acknowledge and integrate African philosophical and cultural perspectives as counterweights to the Western tendency to privilege individualism over the community in research.
For some, ‘ethical imperialism’ or ‘neo-colonialism’ are choice terms to describe the continued approach to resolving specific research ethics issues using Western ideas even when they clearly do not respond well to cultural and national circumstances across Africa. Because the West tends to prefer universalism, they tend to think that what works for them works for everyone. But imposing Western values on distant communities reflects a lack of respect for other cultures and amounts to cultural overreach. If biomedical investigators, social scientists and other scholars were well versed in cultural ethics, they would be better equipped to plan and conduct research with adequate sensitivity to other cultures, and particularly in Africa.
Cultural research ethics is in a nascent phase within the field of research ethics as a whole and hence requires more attention and in-depth articulation. With specific case studies, this vital volume will provide unique perspectives on research ethics topics such as social autonomy vis-a-vis interests of individuals, the ethical soundness of specific research activities and projects, issues of risk management, and informed consent. This volume will assemble and curate needed resources and case studies in cultural research ethics practices, providing insight into current developments and future research directions. It will be a valuable contribution to cultural research ethics as currently there is a dearth of published literature available in this emerging field. Although it will focus on research ethics in the African context, it will draw on and extend ideas in existing works that address cultural research ethics outside Africa.
Target Audience
The volume will be designed as a research ethics “field guide” with two broad audiences in mind: (1) African researchers and research organizations that want homegrown guidance about research ethics, and (2) research ethicists worldwide who can use it to learn about cultural research ethics and especially cultural research ethics in Africa.
The book will provide guidance for communicating opinions and exchanging ideas about research ethics issues and challenges in order to improve the quality of life in Africa. This book will raise awareness about the unique research ethics issues and challenges facing Africa. Other specific target establishments include educational institutions, relevant government departments, regulatory agencies, and relevant national and international government and non-governmental organizations.
Proposed Topics (each containing case studies)
Part-I: Cultural Research Ethics: What is it & Why is it Important?
Potential topics:
• Afro-cultural Research Ethics: What is it?
• Theory of Afro-relationship as a Basis for Research Ethics
• Making Cultural Research Ethics a Reality
• 21st Century Research Ethics Priorities for Africa
• Human-Animal-Environmental Ethical Relations
Part-II: Conducting Research on Cultural Research Ethics
Potential topics:
• Cultural Research Ethics Study Designs and Methods
• Relevance of Cultural Ethics to other Populations (e.g., colonized Indigenous groups)
• Replacing Western-individualism with Afro-relationalism
• Responsible Conduct of Research – Cultural ethics style
• Cultural Research – From Issues to Challenges: Developing National Capacity for ResearchEthics.
Note: The suggested topics above indicate the scope of this volume, but authors can submit their work on research ethics which will be evaluated to see how it might fit into the volume.
Proposals due [300 words]: August 15, 2020
Notification of proposal decisions: September 15, 2020
Full chapters due: March 15, 2021
Book submitted: June 15, 2021
Editors: Dr. Ike Val Iyioke, Dr. Tonia Onyeka, Dr. John-Moses Maduabuchi, and Prof. Michael O’Rourke.
Please send chapter proposals to Dr. Ike Val Iyioke via email [].


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