Lesley Green

Cite as:

Okune, Angela. 2018. "Lesley Green." In STS in "Africa" Personal Careers. In STS in "Africa" in Formation, created by Angela Okune and Aadita Chaudhury. In STS Across Borders Digital Exhibit, curated by Aalok Khandekar and Kim Fortun. Society for Social Studies of Science. August.

STS Across Borders In Brief

STS Across Borders is a special exhibit organized by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) to showcase how the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) has developed in different times, places...Read more

CFP: Resistance is Fertile! On Being Sons and Daughters of Soil

AO: This call for paper for a forthcoming book edited by Lesley Green, Nikiwe Solomon, and Virginia MacKenny of the Environmental Humanities South Centre at the University of Cape Town, South Africa highlight topics and areas of interest for the group.Read more

2012. Green. "Beyond South Africa’s ‘indigenous knowledge – science’ wars"

Abstract: " In this paper, the paradoxes and difficulties attending the notion of indigenous knowledge in South Africa are reviewed and an alternative dialogue about intellectual heritage is proposed. Beginning with a survey of debates on ‘indigenous knowledge’ and sciences in...Read more

Blog post: "Making it Through the Water Crisis"

This blog post by Lesley Green was initiated in response to an email from a journalist who asked for comment on the Cape water crisis. His email was titled "Will Cape Town survive the deadliest water crisis?." Green responds that this is not “the deadliest” water crisis and that the city...Read more

Collaborative Research Project on Water Quality in Cape Town

Lesley Green has been working together with a team of researchers (Full team includes: Leslie Petrik, Adeola P. Abegunde and Cecilia Y. Sanusi from the Environmental and Nano Science Group, at the Department of Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town; Lesley Green...Read more

“I’ve been astonished how important science studies is for graduate students. It provides a space in which students can talk back to that which is being presented as “true truth”. People can then begin to find their own voice in responding to forms of scholarship that have assumed a political power that they don’t deserve.”

(May 18, 2018, phone call interview with author)

Key inspirations

Isabelle Stengers; e.g. "slow science"

Lesley Green on Future Directions of STS in Africa

Lesley Green (May 18, 2018): “For me, the key work that needs to be done in the next couple of years is building science studies in Africa in order to equip scholars to be able to take issue with "captured science." Because captured science with its neoliberal dogma and political will and...Read more

"What events have shaped what STS in South Africa looks like today?"

LG: The end of debates over science really happened in 2009 when Mbeki lost the presidency in large part because of the position he took on indigenous knowledge contra science. To put it simply, his critique was that the West is bad, science is bad, the rest is good. As a result of his politics, it was estimated about 300,000 people died who didn’t need to because of lack of antiretrovirals. From this context, there emerged an antipathy and any critique of science was thrown into the trough of cultural relativism. Zuma (who took office after Mbeki) undid all of Mbeki’s projects related to knowledge studies. At that point, the worst kind of fundamental science raised its head and shut down any attempts to develop alternative knowledges. So for that reason, today there is not as strong of a field of science studies in South Africa. For example, I was going down the road of working on traditional knowledge and science but it got to a point where I couldn’t deal with heated antagonisms anymore so I took a few steps back and rebranded the project as environmental humanities in order to try to create a space where we could think about questions of knowledge without getting anywhere near the terrain of HIV / AIDS in South Africa. ... 

Only now after the student protests of 2015/2016 that these debates about knowledge and ontologies are being explored in any sense. The big struggle is to make sure that they don’t just flip back into culturalism.

(summarized notes from phone interview with author)

Leslie Green on narratives about Africa

"My PhD was on journalism and narratives of crisis and conflict in KwaZulu­Natal in the 1990s. I feel very strongly about the role of the media in generating responsive, responsible stories." Read more