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Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the by Helen Tilley

By Helen Tilley

Tropical Africa was once one of many final areas of the area to adventure formal ecu colonialism, a approach that coincided with the appearance of a number of new medical specialties and examine tools. Africa as a residing Laboratory is a far-reaching research of the thorny dating among imperialism and the function of medical expertise—environmental, scientific, racial, and anthropological—in the colonization of British Africa.

A key resource for Helen Tilley’s research is the African study Survey, a venture undertaken within the Thirties to discover how smooth technological know-how used to be being utilized to African difficulties. This undertaking either embraced and suggested an interdisciplinary method of study on Africa that, Tilley argues, underscored the heterogeneity of African environments and the interrelations one of the difficulties being studied. whereas the purpose of British colonialists was once undoubtedly to remodel and modernize Africa, their efforts, Tilley contends, have been usually without notice subverted by way of medical issues with the neighborhood and vernacular. Meticulously researched and gracefully argued, Africa as a dwelling Laboratory transforms our figuring out of imperial heritage, colonial improvement, and the position technological know-how performed in both.

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Additional info for Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950

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Efforts to coordinate colonial policies and to understand African populations and environments had a similar effect: they drew attention to the numerous failures, mistakes, and misunderstandings that permeated African colonialism. Ecologists played an important role in this process, but so did social anthropologists. The field’s emphasis on people rather than resources and profits cut against the grain of empire. That anthropologists were relatively few and that the effects of their efforts were visible largely behind the scenes has meant that this feature of the history of science in tropical Africa has been underappreciated.

Colonizers in all parts of the world were forced to consider what indigenous inhabitants knew, how they knew it, and how reliable vernacular knowledge really was. Whether administrators wished to admit it or not, understanding why colonial subjects lived and behaved as they did could determine the success or failure of specific colonial interventions. A central question that this book seeks to answer is precisely how studying African ideas and practices gradually became a separate scholarly venture for Europeans and Americans, foreshadowing contemporary investigations into African indigenous knowledge systems.

In this respect, international geographical gatherings helped to reinforce national and regional pride. Yet, more significantly, they allowed participants to share ideas and information across national borders. ” The organizers were especially keen to consider the “best systems of colonisation” as well as the resiliency of “indigenous races” and the ability of Europeans to acclimate to hot climates. 33 Illnesses affecting humans and animals and a lack of suitable “beasts of burden” made travel arduous and slow.

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