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What Can STS Do for Africa that Marx Couldn't?

Monday, March 31, 2014
12:00 AM
1014 Tisch Hall

After 1945, Karl Marx’s writings became in the hands of African intellectuals a technology for understanding and mobilizing against European colonialism. From the 1960s onwards, Marx’s ideas inspired the most rigorous recovery of African history—from pre-colonial state formation and economy to the hammer blow of European imperialism, capitalism, and racism and the enslavement, colonialism, and neocolonial dependency that followed. The works of the Dar-es-Salaam School—among them Walter Rodney, Giovanni Arrighi, John Saul, and Samir Amin— became “usable pasts” essential to inspiring an African self-rebirth and to sensitize the (Western) world about the evils of colonialism. But what did these works and those they inspired leave out? What are the possibilities and pitfalls for Science and Technology Studies in Africa? Mavhunga addresses these questions from his second book manuscript, entitled When the Tsetse Fly Moves: An Insect-mediated Environmental and Technological History of Zimbabwe.


About the Author

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga is associate professor of science, technology, and society at MIT. He did his doctorate at the University of Michigan. His book, Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe, is coming out with MIT Press in June.