Objectives of the Sephis Programme
Sephis, the South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development, was established in 1994. The programme encourages researchers located in the South to establish links with their colleagues in other parts of the South. This growing South-South network is concerned with research on the history of development. Prime objectives of the Sephis programme are supporting dialogues between researchers from the South with their various visions of development and history, encouraging comparative research, and strengthening Southern-based research capacity. Sephis is largely funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Development Cooperation but also increasingly receives funding from other organizations.
Under the general theme of Historicizing Modernity and Development, Sephis has been focusing its activities on two subthemes which run through histories of national and local development: identity and equity.
Identity focuses on colonial and post-colonial constructions of ‘national’ and ‘community’ identities, cultures and histories and asks questions about the differential access of various groups to citizenship, human rights and possibilities for political and cultural expression. The second theme, equity, focuses on the historical dimension of economic marginalization related to class, community, gender and religion, as well as differential access to the fruits of ‘development’.
Sephis fosters cooperation between researchers with historically-grounded approaches to their disciplines and located in various regions of the South. It encourages scholars to undertake research on other Southern regions than their own. It organizes and sponsors workshops and it funds research projects. It also offers facilities for institutes in the South to invite scholars from other Southern regions to undertake lectures tours in order to compare different research traditions and different historical experiences.
Sephis aims at using alternative historical sources (e.g. oral history and traditions, archives of marginalized groups etc) and opening up historical debates on development to wider audiences. It is also eager to involve stake-holders in development (e.g. women groups, labour unions, environmental groups) in its activities.
To accomplish its goals Sephis focuses on four sets of core activities: