mathieuquet Annotations

How to take into account the multiple genealogies of STS in/of "Africa"?

Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 5:08am

I welcome the initiative and the use of STHV as a first site in order to identify the STS works dedicated to "Africa". In order to widen the analysis and to move towards a broader, richer and more complex picture of science studies in/of Africa, I suggest to enlarge the conception of STS to neighbouring disciplinary fields on one hand, and to expand the historical scope of the construction on the other hand. Of course the references and names I suggest are only some of the bricks that should be added to the building. i really do hope that others will follow. The institutionalisation of STS is still a recent phenomenon in a lot of countries, but the critical reflection upon science, technology, medicine has been running for a much longer term and as STS scholars we have to take this into account in order to know "where we come from"...

The first thing I suggest is to open the conception of STS employed here to the field of innovation studies. In spite of recurring disagreements (on conceptions of development for instance), the two fields have been very close, and a journal such as the African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development (launched in 2009) contains a lot of insights for STS scholars. Before the laucnh of this journal other researches have been conducted. In particular the 7 volumes edited by sociologist of science and development Roland Waast in 1996, and titled "Les sciences hords d'Occident / 20h Century Sciences: Beyond the Metropolis", offer some interesting papers upon science and development in the African countries. Contributions from Roland Waast or Jacques Gaillard have played an influential role and were followed by other works on science in the African countries (notably by Johann Mouton, Rigas Arvanitis and others).

I also suggest to connect to medical anthropology and anthropology of health, (sub)disciplines which have a long history. Some relatively recent works relating well to STS research (Peter Geschiere, Nancy Rose Hunt for instance), and some other older works from the 1980s setting the bases for sub-fields such as the study of pharmaceuticals: Didier Fassin, Susan Reynolds Whyte, Sjaak van der Geest among others. Of course there would be already a whole genealogy of how health/medical anthropology related to contemporary STS.

Same could/should be done with such fields as philospohy of science (works by Paulin Hountondji in the 1980/90s upon endogenous knowledge) environment and agricultural sciences, history (in particular history of colonial science), history of (higher) education, and so forth.

I am only suggesting here to take into account these axes, since it will be a full research in itself to try integrate these multiple strands to a richer and more complex history of STS.

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