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Kronos

On-line version ISSN 2309-9585

Abstract

BANK, Andrew  and  JACOBS, Nancy J.. Introduction: The micro-politics of knowledge production in Southern Africa. Kronos [online]. 2015, vol.41, n.1, pp. 11-35. ISSN 2309-9585.

This issue of Kronos: Southern African Histories proposes a scaling down from analyses of scientific and institutional authority toward the micro-politics in the work of knowledge production. The articles locate the operations of power and affect in the interactions of individuals situated within networks. While histories of science in southern Africa are still sparse, these essays build on the region's rich micro-historical and biographical traditions and on developments in science studies globally. The twelve articles in this issue lie in the period from around 900 through to the present and their geographical range includes contemporary Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. This introduction discusses them thematically. The first theme 'Controlling and Classifying Nature' (articles by de Luna, Cook, Hammel, and Mwatwara and Swart) explores knowledge production before the apex of imperial rule and foreground collaborations between Africans and Europeans without defining the projects in scientific or imperialist terms. These articles expose the fragile boundaries between fact and fiction, knowledge and ignorance, in historical and natural understandings. The second theme, 'The Racial Politics of Cultural Knowledge' (articles by Wright, Bank, Hansen, and Duff) draws out the ideological, political, and affective motivations in scientific work and directs attention to the story of racial categories and racism in southern African science and its history more generally. The third theme, 'Local and Global Racial Politics' (articles by Dubow, Magaziner and Jacobs), demonstrates the potential of intellectual biographies to establish the presence of affect in a form usually reduced to equating power and knowledge. The fourth theme, 'The Micro-Politics of Science' (article by Heywood), probes how diverse actors, including molecular biologists, museum staff and conservationists, interacted in the development of a scheme to breed a look-alike of an extinct species, the quagga. Collectively, the pieces in this issue invite reflection connections across scales and about differences between the politics at different levels in the history of knowledge. They also illustrate the benefits to the history of knowledge that come from magnifying micro-dynamics.

Keywords : boundary objects; Henrika Kuklick; historiography; knowledge production; micro-politics; natural sciences; network; race; segregation; social sciences; southern Africa.

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