Fourth Book: What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? by Clapperton Chakanetsa

Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director General of the ICIPE Centre in Nairobi. Her work aims to improve the resistance and productivity of tropical and sub-tropical forage grasses via the use of microorganisms


The story of science, technology, and innovation in Africa (and that of the African diaspora) is one of resilience and creativity, providing a thriving landscape of alternate epistemologies, methodologies and conceptual frames. The book dispels myths around the continent as an environment of generalisable disadvantage, lacking the resources necessary for knowledge production, whilst also firmly acknowledging the impact of imperialism, and its domination through plunder, rapacity and knowledge transfer. With the observation that "things do not (always) mean the same from everywhere", the volume's editor, Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, introduces Africans as active intellectual agents, carving out and offering authoritative knowledge, resourceful technics, decolonialising methods, and whose strategic deployment of both endogenous and inbound things represents an African-centered notion of Science and Technology Studies.

Chapter 4 and 7 will be the reading group’s central focus: with Geri Augusto’s chapter emphasising the role of enslaved Africans not only as STI transferors but also as innovators acting upon the types of carried knowledge outlined in the introduction, and Toluwalogo Odumosu's section, which asks how, in spite of the self-disadvantaging legal framework, Africa’s citizens find ways to innovate, intervene in, and extend upon mobile technology. Indeed, chapter 4 aims to return to enslavement and colonialism, clarifying the circumstances which were intended to destroy and dehumanise, and the enslaved community which, despite these forms of violence, survived via both scientific and non-scientific enterprise, as well as innovativeness. Augusto treats the knowledge of enslaved Africans and their descendants as “an integral part of a truly globalized history of science and technology". Chapter 7, on the other-hand, focuses on contemporary Africa, intimately examining artefacts which are capable of communicating and attesting to the creativity of its maker/user. Through asking the vital question “can we recognize the African mobile as distinctly African? And if so, what is the nature of its sociotechnical assemblage?”, Odumosu recognises the ways in which Africans are engaged in constitutive appropriation, wherein the act of appropriating is simultaneously one of constituting something into being.

Mavhunga's book should be of interest to any individuals interested in African ways of looking, meaning-making, and creating, as well as decolonising knowledge practices.


If you would like to join us, please RSVP to sometime during the two weeks, or just show up on the day.

The link above contains a PDF download of the introduction, as well as Chapters 4 & 7.

WHEN: Monday 30 July, 4-6pm.

LOCATION: RC Mills Building, Rm:148, the University of Sydney


© Compiled by Zsuzsanna Dominika Ihar for BoS

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