AO: Green notes the dual paradox that usually accompanies the discussions about indigenous knowledge and science. First, is an argument for multiple kinds of knowledges, taking the view that multiplicity in itself is important. It can argue that all knowledge is ‘ethnic’ or cultural. The other similar argument is that all knowledge can be shown to contain elements of science. She argues that both approaches constitute a moral argument and call for the equality of knowledges based on the assertion that either all ways of knowing the world, including the sciences, are belief, or all are knowledge. She argues that the arguments invert the modernist dualisms – facts or values, knowledge or belief, nature or culture but leave the structure of those ideas intact.
AO: Foster cites Ruha Benjamin in describing “informed refusal” by some people who declined to talk to her. She also cites Ngar and Swarr “enacting accountability” meaning she responded to other needs and intersts of San peoles and others she worked with in South Africa such as electronic copies of articles, reviewing grant proposals, etc. She mentions an “ethic of reciprocity” that recognizes “mutual benefits received by both researchers and researchedd.” (21) She states that “practices of accountability and reciprocity have enabled me to find way of engaging in the rich, messay, and continually long process of, in the words of Kim TallBear, finding ways of “standing with” San peoples and producing “faithful knwoeldges” that are co-constituted with San interests.” (22)
AO: Breckenridge notes that, contrary to widely held belief, it is an effort to escape the limits of the old paper state – of slow, susceptible or unreliable bureaucratic processing, of forgery, deception and translation in the preparation of documents – that lies at the core of the effort to develop biometric identification technologies. (“And this political imperative – to sweep away the slow and messy and unreliable paper-based systems of government – remains a key part of the appeal of these systems.”) (16) He notes that scholars (Wiener, Habermas) would be surprised that this kind of technosurveillance state developed outside of the “developed West” and in some of the poorest countries in the world (16).
AO: Breckenridge notes that whereas identification in almost every other society has emerged from the demands of local government, in South Africa it can be undertaken only by a single, central government agency and only by means of fingerprinting. This biometric centralisation he argues is globally distinctive and has been in place for half a century, and it affects almost every aspect of institutional life in South Africa – from banking to vehicle licensing. (19).
AO: Breckenridge notes that: “Government in Africa, which scholars have variously described as a gatekeeper state, as decentralised despotism and as hegemony on a shoestring, has been defined much more by the absence of information than its presence.” (25)
AO: von Schnitzler notes that engineers were required to demonstrate their awareness of the history of payment practices in a particular area and how they had gone about testing the meters. She mentions that presentations thus often included the results of field trials or pilot projects that could “demonstrate a certain local knowledge. The importance of this mobilization of local knowl- edge became most obvious in the disjuncture between international and local presenters.”
AO: She notes that electricity and water pre-pay providers thought that people were not educated, but, quoting one expert “in fact, a lot of innovation happens through them. If it wasn’t for people regularly subverting the meter, we all wouldn’t be here.” (687)
AO: Maker space entrepreneurs desire their hardwares to be “Made in Africa, for Africa”
AO: Coban argues that tech developers and start-ups constantly negotiate between liberating feelings about new work possibilities and restrictive requirements of international funders and investors who still pursue exoticized imaginations of lives in a generalized “Africa.”
AO: Coban notes that daily lives of tech developers in Nairobi are still defined in relation to the cliches about superiority of knowledge and tech from global North. Making movement is therefore “revolutionary” in positioning the global South as the knowledge maker.
“Made in Africa, for Africa” as a claim for expertise and having expert knowledge about what is best for one’s own context and building for it. This echoes Crane (2010; 2013). Contextualization of context vs “global standards.”
AO: Writing about the six pieces in the special volume, the authors talk about re-politicize capacity in Africa to recognize capacity as a form of power to act on the world and produce effects, that emerges from, is contested within, and acts on social, institutional and material processes as they unfold within specific locations and histories in a world of unequal life chances, resources and opportunity. They talk about how the authors “relocate capacity in the pursuit of ‘good’ science and care, defined not just as technological efficacy, but also in terms of personal and collective duty, service, pleasure, success, sovereignty, autonomy, membership and progress.” (350)
AO: Geissler and Tousignant ask: “what kinds of tensions arise in and between the making of good institutions, good collaborators, good careers, good science and good health? How do these different goals converge, and what successes, satisfactions, problems, dilemmas and disputes arise?” (351)
AO: The authors argue that to gain capacity, African scientists and clinicians often seek to become ‘collaborators’ at the expense of autonomy in setting and pursuing priorities of knowledge and care (they cite Droney 2017; Waast and Krishna 2003).
AO: Citing Mika’s study, the authors note a performance of partial capacity – such as doing meticulous ward rounds when chemotherapy stocks are exhausted – is, like improvised capacity, an ambivalent good.
“On the one hand, it appears as illusory capacity, an ‘empty’ performance that does not lead to health improvement. On the other hand, ‘performing’ as a good nurse, doctor, scientist or institution may not only attract future capacity building investment (Fullwiley 2011; Moyi Okwaro and Geissler 2015), it is also a source of value in itself as an enactment of service, professionalism and action (e.g. Livingston 2012; Tousignant 2013b) constitutive of subjec- tivity and hence precondition for medical, or political, action.” (355)
AO: Okeke notes that the diversity of endemic life-threatening infections and limited public health resources on the continent make the need for basic laboratory diagnostic support even more acute than in other parts of the world.
AO: Tichenor notes that the Senegalese media undermined the moral arguments that framed the unions’ strike and focused on the irresponsibility of health workers and how “they were making it impossible for the country to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.” (443)
Notes the moral undertone of providing or withholding data (444)
I noted the word “data” being used in different ways throughout the paper. My understanding of “data” is research data” which the analyst seems to be using initially. However, then, esp. during the ethnographic aspects, the language of “data” becomes used for internet data bundles. This slippage is not analyzed or discussed.
The analysts note: “purchasing software and hardware was usually the responsibility of the individual instead of the institution. This raises an important concern: the inability to regularly update research hardware and software places researchers in a position in which they are unable to effectively make use of online resources.” It was unclear how / why they note this as unique or different from anywhere else in the world. Are there locations where computers and software/hardware are the responsibility of the institution? Perhaps this is a disciplinary difference since all graduate students in my department (anthro) are responsible to buy and own their own hardware and software. If someone cannot afford a computer, the university, so far as I know, does not do anything about it. Is this perhaps not the case in Europe? This lack of clarity on my part might also be partly because it is unclear who the “who” is in this paper. Students? Staff? Employees?
Underlying assumption that tackling these challenges to usage of data will help to “generate more innovative and productive solutions for the publics and public health settings within its reach”
"Holbrook bristles at the suggestion that, as an African-American scientist, she has an obligation to give back to her community; "nobody asks the white boys to give back to their communities," she observes." This quote is interesting because it rasies questions about who the burden of "helping" is on (and who and how others should be helped)... Should members from "marginalized communities" be the ones to "help" others from the same communties or is it a broader institutional responsibility that must be held (and engrained in all). In other words, (how) do intersectional identities align (or not) with moral duties and ethical responsibilities?