Call for Abstracts: VAD conference – Re-wiring Africa: How do quests for scientific progress and for decoloniality resonate with each other?

Accounting for how Africa is being wired into global modernizing projects and the language of scientific universals, this panel asks how postcolonial critique might change when getting close to technoscientific practice and how inversely ongoing calls for scientific progress could possibly resonate with decolonial imaginaries. African Studies (a social sciences and humanities driven field) and the work of natural scientists (and technology and engineering projects) taking place in Africa appear to be driven by very different orientations. While decolonial thought, and the quest for Africa’s own voice in the world saturates African Studies, practitioners of science and technology must rather sustain networks and (quite literally) connective wires in their work with the leading centers of knowledge production. This points to another axis: social sciences and humanities privilege difference, semantic negotiations, and solitary publications, while natural scientists adopt common universal languages and meta codes for collaborations. Material, electronic, digital, and political infrastructures (or the lack thereof) undergird both orientations: telecommunications infrastructure, open data commitments, deep sea cables and radio towers bringing internet to Africa’s interior, decisions to allow funding to flow into national research and training institutions. Technologically integrated into a global science logic, hardwired Africa challenges the social sciences to revisit questions of place and universality, participation and historically induced knowledge structures. We ask how the “postcolonial” might change when approaching scientific practice, how calls for scientific progress resonate with decolonial imaginaries in Africa. In this panel, we invite contributions that present cases in which these struggles are made explicit.

Submission deadline: 31. Jan 2022

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