Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870…

Paperback | April 15, 2011

byHelen Tilley

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Tropical Africa was one of the last regions of the world to experience formal European colonialism, a process that coincided with the advent of a range of new scientific specialties and research methods. Africa as a Living Laboratory is a far-reaching study of the thorny relationship between imperialism and the role of scientific expertise—environmental, medical, racial, and anthropological—in the colonization of British Africa.

A key source for Helen Tilley’s analysis is the African Research Survey, a project undertaken in the 1930s to explore how modern science was being applied to African problems. This project both embraced and recommended an interdisciplinary approach to research on Africa that, Tilley argues, underscored the heterogeneity of African environments and the interrelations among the problems being studied. While the aim of British colonialists was unquestionably to transform and modernize Africa, their efforts, Tilley contends, were often unexpectedly subverted by scientific concerns with the local and vernacular. Meticulously researched and gracefully argued, Africa as a Living Laboratory transforms our understanding of imperial history, colonial development, and the role science played in both.

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Tropical Africa was one of the last regions of the world to experience formal European colonialism, a process that coincided with the advent of a range of new scientific specialties and research methods. Africa as a Living Laboratory is a far-reaching study of the thorny relationship between imperialism and the role of scientific exper...

Helen Tilley is affiliated with the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Program in African Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She is the editor, with Robert Gordon, of Ordering Africa: Anthropology, European Imperialism, and the Politics of Knowledge.

other books by Helen Tilley

Utopia/Dystopia: Conditions of Historical Possibility
Utopia/Dystopia: Conditions of Historical Possibility

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:520 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.5 inPublished:April 15, 2011Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226803473

ISBN - 13:9780226803470

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

Introduction: Africa as a Living Laboratory

ONE / An Imperial Laboratory: Scientific Societies, Geopolitics, and Territorial Acquisitions

TWO / A Development Laboratory: The African Research Survey, the Machinery of Knowledge, and Imperial Coordination

THREE / An Environmental Laboratory: “Native” Agriculture, Tropical Infertility, and Ecological Models of Development

FOUR / A Medical Laboratory: Infectious Diseases, Ecological Methods, and Modernization

FIVE / A Racial Laboratory: Imperial Politics, Race Prejudice, and Mental Capacity

SIX / An Anthropological Laboratory: Ethnographic Research, Imperial Administration, and Magical Knowledge

SEVEN / A Living Laboratory: Ethnosciences, Field Sciences, and the Problem of Epistemic Pluralism

Appendix: African Colonial Service Employment, 1913–51

Notes

Bibliography