History of Science in Africa

A research team of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, together with local actors, focussed on the history of science on the African continent in order to understand and appreciate it as an independent production site of scientific knowledge.

For centuries, the history of science in Africa has been generally disregarded or devalued: either findings are not considered scientific or they are presented as if they can only be obtained and understood by Western scientists. The project with the two focus regions Nigeria and Sudan, on the other hand, can now develop new forms of data collection and historical research methods in order to avoid processes of alienation and dispossession; it has an experimental character that will be characterized by close, equal cooperation with actors on the ground. 

This project pursued by the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science has the potential to serve as a prototype for further research worldwide: For this purpose, regions will be examined that have so far hardly been documented by textual sources and that have been shaped by the colonial period. In doing so, the researchers pursue a critical perspective on how scientific knowledge has been gained, especially taking into account processes of alienation and dispossession. Finally, not only are new sources explored, but they are made freely available as open data for research worldwide in the sense of equality and empiricism in the global knowledge society.

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