Aims of the Network

The Network for Science and Technologies Studies in Africa (STS-Africa) connects scholars from all over the world working with Science and Technologies Studies on historic and present processes of techno-scientific innovation, governance and related processes of signification in Africa. It wants to create a space in particular for African scholars to strengthen their positions by using approaches from STS. By doing so the network does not only promote Science and Technology Studies in Africa, but rather enables encounters of STS and African scholars and issues, that also provoke a critique and decentering of contemporary STS and its Euro-American origins. Out of this critique STS-Africa generates tangible knowledge that might help to improve science and technology policy and practice in the region. STS-Africa is complementary to existing STS organizations but distinguished by its regional focus on Africa. As a scientific endeavor everybody working on issues relating to science and technology in Africa is welcomed to join the network. Designed to bridge academic, political, geographic and organizational boundaries, STS-Africa shall have the following aims:

  •  Promote and critically advance Science and Technologies Studies with a specific regional focus on Africa
  •  Stimulate academic research and teaching by using approaches from Science and Technologies Studies
  •  Facilitate exchange between scholars with similar interests within the continent and around the world
  •  Organize meeting spaces in and outside of Africa to facilitate intellectual engagement in the relevant topics

 Organization of the Network

STS-Africa is a network of people that was initiated after a workshop on mapping STS in Africa at WISER organized by Richard Rottenburg, Norman Schräpel and Keith Breckenridge. Tasks, ideas and actions are distributed informally between the people who constitute the network. Anybody can be a member of STS-Africa. Members should feel free to actively engage in the organization of the network. Concrete points of interest (e.g. teaching activities in Africa, organizing panels at conferences or preparing publications) should emerge out of discussions and activities of the individual members of the network. In general we believe the following points summarize the organizational task of the network.

 Topics and Issues

We argue that a range of topics become relevant when focusing on science and technology in Africa. The continent and its 54 countries are culturally, linguistically, politically and economically diverse, went through different historical trajectories and need to address manifold contemporary and future challenges. Dealing with the present and the future comprises an ongoing need to translate inherited and circulating knowledge and technology. Thus understanding global science and technology from an African vantage point puts some unique contexts and research fields on the agenda.

  • State formation and figurations of accumulation (telecommunication and banking; mineral and energetic resource extraction; agro-industrial investments …)
  • Forms of cooperation (changes in aid regimes; emergent actors and geopolitical relations …)
  • Infrastructures (information and communication technologies; colonial & postcolonial libraries; transport systems; interregional zoning …)
  • Science and Education (privatized and public higher education; contract research, development of national solutions, multiple rationalities, epistemologies and ontologies …)
  • Biosciences and medicine (infectious and emergent diseases; bioprospecting and experimentalization …)
  • Disaster preparedness (climate surveillance and adaptation; multi-factor monitoring systems…)
  • Legal regimes (constitutionalism and democratization; post-conflict justice …)