Race, Science, and Technology in the Global African World

December 3, 2018 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Race, Science, and Technology in the Global African World

A Lecture Series organized by the Department of Africana Studies

“Black Science and Technology Studies (STS): An African in a White (Man's) Discipline”

A Lecture by Dr. Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga (Associate Professor, MIT)

Monday, December 3, 2018

4130 WWPH

2 pm – 4 pm


Dr. Mavhunga is an Associate Professor of History and Science and Technology Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His professional interests lie in the history, theory, and practice of science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the international context, with a focus on Africa.  He is the author of Transient Workspaces: Technologies of Everyday Innovation in Zimbabwe (MIT Press, 2014), which received Honorable Mentions in the Turku Prize (European Society for Environmental History) and Herskovits Prize (African Studies Association) in 2015. His second book is an edited volume entitled What Do Science, Technology, and Innovation Mean from Africa? (MIT Press, 2017).

This lecture is a reflection on the 'experiential location' from which Aime Cesaire and Frantz Fanon both were writing about colonialism and self-liberation, and placing it in conversation with science and technology. The lecture critiques discourses of colonialism in STS which often do not pause to consider seriously the categories of those who are so-called colonized. The preoccupation with concepts whose origins are already 'white'-washed leaves very little breathing space for non-white categories and meanings of the scientific and the technological. It leaves the black scholar feeling like a visitor to the discipline, feeling “postcolonial technoscienced” in syllabi and “peopled out” at conferences on science and technology even in Africa. In the lecture Dr. Mavhunga reflects on this alienated existence through Cesaire and Fanon, as a starting point towards opening up white STS into a Global STS.

This lecture series is co-sponsored by a number of units:

Internal Collaborators: Year of Pitt Global, Faculty Research and Scholarship Program (Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences), African Studies Program, Urban Studies Program, Center for Bioethics and Health Law, Department of Human Genetics, Center for Health Equity, Global Studies Center, Department of Sociology, World History Center

External Collaborators: African American Programs, Senator John Heinz History Center; Pittsburgh Chapter of the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), Dr. Edna McKenzie Branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH)