STS in Africa: Micro

This essay answers the analytic question: “What did the analyst choose to describe as “science” and/or “data” in Africa?” Even within just the annotated set, STS scholarship in/on/about the continent spans a wide range of contexts and epistemic communities of scientists (for more on the diversity of projects, see this exhibit). While some scholars working on science and tech in Africa continue to study “elites” working in labs (e.g. Pollock 2014), others are explicit about their move to study those making science outside of the laboratory environment (e.g. Biruk 2018)Mavhunga studies things that “few would consider technological,” while Tilley conducted a historical inquiry of studies about British colonial Africa. Other “sciences” studied included: African medicinal plant knowledges (Osseo-Asare 2014) and negotiations over their intellectual property (Foster 2017); "big science” (Okeke 2016) and diagnostic science in African hospital laboratories (Okeke 2011); transnational collaboration in HIV medicine in Uganda and the US (Crane 2010); the science of biometric identification and registration systems (Breckenridge 2014); pre-paid electricity and water devices in South African townships (Von Schnitzler 2013); and the socio-material practices of prototyping, making and innovating within engineering and hardware projects in Nairobi's makerspaces (Coban 2018). An emergent body of work looks at the performance and production of data in African contexts (Biruk 2018; Tichenor 2017; Bezuidenhout et al. 2017).

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

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July 31, 2018