Scientists’ situated knowledge: Strong objectivity in transdisciplinarity

Rosendahl, Judith; Zanella, Matheus A.; Rist, Stephan; Weigelt, Jes (2015). Scientists’ situated knowledge: Strong objectivity in transdisciplinarity. Futures, 65, pp. 17-27. Elsevier 10.1016/j.futures.2014.10.011

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Although transdisciplinary research has started addressing important epistemological challenges, as evidenced by the discussion about ‘mode 2’ knowledge production, its relation with postulations of ‘scientific objectivity’ is not yet well clarified. A common way of dealing with the epistemological challenge of situated knowledge production, as proposed by transdisciplinarity, is to point to the fundamental aspect of reflexivity. But reflexivity also includes being aware that power and control over the object is derived from the social position of researchers, an issue not often explicitly discussed in transdisciplinary research. Reflexivity thus represents an important but insufficient principle for guaranteeing appropriate levels of self-reflection within a process of knowledge coproduction. We therefore hypothesize that transdisciplinary research could greatly benefit from feminist scientific tradition, in particular the insights of standpoint theory and the concept of ‘strong objectivity’. We analyse, and reflect upon, how a recent transdisciplinary research initiative – conducted together with civil society organizations in (CSOs) in six countries: Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Ecuador and India – has benefited from the use of ‘strong objectivity’. We analyse how the social position of all stakeholders, including ourselves as the scientific actors in this initiative, influence the process and conditions of transdisciplinary knowledge co-production, and we discuss how power and control by scientists affects the process and conditions of interaction. Thereby we argue for the necessity of explicitly assuming sides in contested contexts for reaching objectivity in transdisciplinary research.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


10 Strategic Research Centers > Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)

UniBE Contributor:

Rist, Stephan








Stephan Schmidt

Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2015 11:58

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:44

Publisher DOI:





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