Technology in Africa/Africa in Technology
Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga, MIT
What is the place of Africa in the technological map of the world? This explores a double absence: of the role of technology in African history, on the one hand, and of Africa in the global history of technology, ont he other. The concept of technology in the African context needs to be problematized because it is entangled within the colonial circumstances under which it arrived and the specific (Western) things it denoted. The persistent imaginaion of Africa is that of an untechnological continent that oly wakes up when first Europeans and now Chinese arrive. Even after being rouched by the hand of civilization, Africa is prone to sleeping sickness when left to itself. Africa is seen as a powder keg of disease, wars, and refugees that might contaminate the 'civilized world'. Africa is the last place to look for or find technology; Africa and technolgy, let alone 'African technolgy', is an oxymoron. The only thing worth talking about in Africa, a la Hegel, is what three streams or directions from which one might see and define technology: from outside coming, from within (and sometimes going out), and in encounter. Mavhunga will use three examples to demonstrate Africa's contribution to STS (science, technology and society) and the benefits of an STS approach to African Studies.