Decolonizing Science? Rodent research and scientists in Tanzania, 1970s - Present

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019 - 11:30

WiSER invites you to a lunchtime seminar by

Jia-Hui Lee

Recent histories of Africa have focused on the production of scientific knowledge (Tilley 2011; Osseo-Asare 2014). These histories implicitly -- and sometimes explicitly -- raise the question of what meanings terms like “African science” or “decolonizing science” may bear (see edited volume by Mavhunga 2017). This paper tells the story of producing rodent science at the Sokoine University in Morogoro, Tanzania, globally recognized for its contribution to rodent taxonomy and ecology. The paper will track changes to the Centre’s research program on rodents as pest and disease carriers, the division of labor between Europeans and Tanzanians, and emerging questions about ownership and leadership of scientific knowledge and materials, such as rodent specimens, during the period beginning in the 1970s until the present day. The themes covered by this paper speak to ongoing movements in South Africa about decolonizing university syllabi, the acknowledgment of Belgium’s role in the Congo at the newly re-opened Africa Museum in Tervuren, and continuing requests for the repatriation of fossils and artifacts to African nations from museums in Europe.