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Lecture #8.docx

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Brian Beaton

Lecture 8Science medicine and colonialismTwo Key points Science technology and medicine important tools in colonial ruleScience technology and medicine considered expressions of modernity superiority used to justify colonialism ththOver the course of the 19 and early 20 centuriesEuropeans came to believe they had acquired an understanding of the workings of the physical worldAnd had the ability to tap its natural and human resourcesVastly superior to anything ever achieved past or presentEuropeans explored and colonized Africa the Americas the PacificEncountered thousands of new animals plants minerals Wealth of new objects and information created a demand for new types of orderClassificatory zeal to know everythingIn many ways the Enlightenment really the great extraction thth Over the 19 and early 20 this knowing everything is mobilized as evidentiary base by which Europeans then claim superiority over all othersTo them justified global hegemonySo in sites like Africa tho 19 c European observers began to say that African cultures were devoid of all scientific thinking and possessed only the most primitive technologies o Measure African cultures against increasingly professionalized and specialized world of Western science o Assert that Africans had not been responsible for a single discovery or mechanical invention o ExampleThe first president of the Anthropological Society in London challenged those who argued for African equality to name one African who had distinguished himself in any field of scienceWestern experts used themselves as the very rubric to measure progress and abilityKey erased where their own knowledge came fromCollective forgettingReturning to colonial context in the mid 20thc o This kind of expert discourse relied heavily on reports of travelers settlers and missionaries for evidence of superiority o Popular awestruck Africans by even the simplest mechanical devices o Clocks batteries magnets photographic equipment beer bottles guns compasses etc o Settlers claimed they could entertain the savages by lighting matches buttoning their coats snapping revolvers or using mirrors to set things on fire etc o General public really liked these tales o Over the course of the 19thc and into the 20thc different technical worlds of Europeans and US and Africans were used to make biological and evolutionary claims
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