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Home > Archives > Previous years: Seminars > Seminars 2013–2014: archives > Memories of Science, traces of development in Africa 2013-2014

Axis Global History and anthropology of science

Memories of Science, traces of development in Africa 2013-2014

Archives, Ruins, Nostalgy

Seminar linked to SPHERE (UMR 7219), the University Paris Diderot and the Centre d’Etude des Mondes Africains (UMR 8171).

Organisation: Guillaume Lachenal (Université Paris Diderot, IUF) & Aïssatou Mbodj-Pouye (CNRS, CEMAF). Contact : Guillaume Lachenal - & Aïssatou Mbodj-Pouye -

PROGRAMME 2013 – 2014:
this year is devoted to the editing project of the working group, especially in the context of a special issue of the journal Politique Africaine:

Archives : 2012 – 2013, 2011 – 2012


The landscape of science, medicine and development in Africa has dramatically changed over the last fifteen years. Neoliberal policies, conflicts and crises have literally ruined public institutions inherited from the colonial state, while new players and new dynamics - from to big philanthropy to NGO’s - herald a "renaissance" which often takes the guise of privatization.

In this context, the colonial and post-colonial past of science in Africa is the object of complex emotional investments. They express, at the same time, memories of colonialism, neo-liberal critiques of the present and longings for development. Monuments, ruined or renovated buildings, archives, old machines register a past where the state, through science, projected a future and promoted specific forms of belonging, participation and citizenship. Today experimental stations or " pilot projects " update and extend as enclaves or remains, a long history which shaped places, communities and subjectivities .

This seminar examines how the traces of the past are commemorated, erased or appropriated in scientific institutions and African landscapes. It brings together anthropologists and historians of science around a series of lectures, case studies and thematic explorations of the physical and emotional presence of the past of science and development in Africa.

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