By Helen Tilley
Tropical Africa used to be one of many final areas of the realm to adventure formal eu colonialism, a strategy that coincided with the appearance of a number of new clinical specialties and learn tools. Africa as a residing Laboratory is a far-reaching examine of the thorny courting 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 learn Survey, a undertaking undertaken within the Thirties to discover how glossy technological know-how used to be being utilized to African difficulties. This venture either embraced and suggested an interdisciplinary method of learn 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 used to be undoubtedly to rework and modernize Africa, their efforts, Tilley contends, have been usually unexpectedly subverted by way of medical issues with the neighborhood and vernacular. Meticulously researched and gracefully argued, Africa as a residing Laboratory transforms our realizing of imperial historical past, colonial improvement, and the function technology performed in both.
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Extra info for Africa as a Living Laboratory: Empire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950
They also tended to be the most outspoken critics of colonialism’s imperfections and inadequacies. Indeed, anthropologists and their administrative allies were often the thin edge of the wedge in terms of critiques of empire. Their attempts to use the African continent to professionalize paradoxically allowed them to illuminate the Eurocentric and contradictory assumptions contained within colonialism. Anthropologists rarely set out to dismantle the empire; some were actually strong believers in paternalistic overrule.
Those at the helm of imperial management were acutely aware of the complexities involved in holding the empire together in the face of both white settler nationalism and indigenous anticolonial resistance. 69 When ofﬁcials called upon scientists to help them and created new structures to facilitate coordination, they were not just trying to depoliticize the problems, as critics of colonial experts sometimes suggest; rather, they were admitting that existing institutions were inadequate to the tasks at hand.
At its center [high modernism] was a supreme self-conﬁdence about continued linear progress, the development of scientiﬁc and technical knowledge, the expansion of production, the rational design of social order, the growing satisfaction of human needs, and, not least, an increasing control over nature (including human nature) commensurate with scientiﬁc understanding of natural laws. 61 The crux of many development problems for Scott and others who share this viewpoint is statesmen’s desire to capture the intricacies of the natural world through the scientiﬁc methods of simpliﬁcation, standardization, quantiﬁcation, and abstraction.