CULTURE, NATURE, FUTURE?
Perspectives on Science and Development in Africa
11-13 April 2006
Centre of African Studies
University of Edinburgh
It is evident that science and technology (S&T) has an important contribution to make to development because of its importance in addressing problems in health, economic growth, energy, agriculture and conservation, to list a few. The 2005 United Nations Millennium Commission highlighted the importance of unlocking "the potential of innovation and technology to accelerate economic growth" (2005, 2). Meanwhile, the Commission for Africa report underlined that "specific action for strengthening science, engineering and technology capacity is an imperative for Africa" (2005, 138). However, the disappointments of development suggest that we ought to think more critically about the role of science in Africa in order to have any hope of turning the 2005 rhetoric of the UN and the Commission for Africa into future reality.
We believe that science and technological development in Africa can be reinvigorated only through the application of rigorous social science. This conference will focus on three historically informed themes that intersect the relationships between Africa, science and development.
1. Generating scientific knowledge in Africa: Knowledge creation must be understood in terms of processes of prioritisation, reasserting how knowledge is situated in contexts of power and not vacuums of rationality.
2. Use and misuse of science and technology in Africa: It is vital to understand how science and technology are wielded, and deemed appropriate or inappropriate, in order to achieve particular ends.
3. Scientific narratives in Africa: The practice and rationale of technological interventions, particularly biological interventions, can be better understood by exploring the discourses and language in which they are negotiated.
The conference is interdisciplinary, drawing on Edinburgh's strong and lengthy traditions of African studies, science and technology studies and conservation, and will not only focus on academic enquiry but will attempt to identify ways in which Scotland's new relationship with Africa can bring benefit.
The conference will take place for the most part in plenary sessions where invited international speakers will speak to these issues. There will break out sessions to explore ways of taking the conference further academically, in terms of policy and in terms of the Scotland-Africa partnership.
We are also seeking poster presentations from graduate students who wish to present their work on these issues.
Please see the conference website for more details.
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