STS in Africa: Discursive Risks

This essay answers the analytic question: "What are the analyst’s epistemic assumptions of “Africa”?" An established binary discourse, both in common public discourse and in circulation even amongst STS scholars who recognized its problematics, was that of “global North” - “global South.” Many of the scholars used the two interrelated terms to describe funding and partnership dynamics (Okeke 2011Crane 2011Coban 2018). Within her text, Pollock (2014) recognized the problematics of the bifurcation between global South-North but noted that “Africa” is an actor’s category and marks inequalities that cannot be ignored. Scholars are also still working through their own assumptions how distinct epistemologies align with “local” and “global” scales (Pollock 2014Crane 2011). Some scholars suggested that “local knowledge” in fact comes to exist - and to gain value - because of global projects (Biruk 2018Coban 2018Tilley 2011). Analysis of data infrastructures was largely absent. Despite discussions about the politics of global funding, global race politics do not feature in most of this work and analyses of sexuality (exceptions being for example Adia Benton and Tousignant (2018) who discuss the racialization of expertise; and Laura Ann Twagira’s focus on gender).

This essay is part of a broader orals document by Angela Okune querying Science and Technology Studies in Africa. Sub-essays within the orals doc can be accessed directly through the following links: Discursive RiskDeuteroMetaMacroMicroNanoTechnoDataEco.


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Created date

July 31, 2018

Cite as

Angela Okune. 31 July 2018, "STS in Africa: Discursive Risks", STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 28 August 2018, accessed 25 July 2024.