The politics of publishing in African studies are controversial and problematic. This is the dilemma: foreign researchers are able to obtain more funds than African-based academics to conduct often very innovative research projects. In order to obtain tenure, and therefore more research funds, these professors publish in western university presses (or Palgrave and Routledge, which is a different story). Western presses choose not to sell their books on the African continent because the market is deemed “unprofitable.” African Universities seek to make themselves look more “respectable” in the eyes of western donors, so they encourage their faculty to publish “internationally” in order to obtain tenure and raise the standing of their departments. With less prestigious alma-maters and sites of employment, as well as less research funds, many of these African-based academics fail to get enough material published abroad, most obtain promotion and/or tenure through university service and teaching. Even if they do publish abroad, the materials are still subject to the dilemmas elaborated upon above. A Namibian academic publishing with Indiana University Press will still not have his or her book available for sale or distribution (beyond the author’s own copies) in Namibia. This is reflective of fundamental inequalities in knowledge production and access to knowledge about the African continent. Because of the dynamics of tenure, sales, copyrights, and access to research funds, knowledge about Africa remains securely in Euro-American hands.
The Namibian Digital Repository intervenes in this situation by providing open access to digitized works that are either out of print or orphaned.