This essay answers the analytic question: “(How) is “Africa” invoked when the author discusses data (as a place with unique demands or responsibilities, for example)?” “Africa” is invoked by scholars working on science and technology as a site with unique responsibilities with regards to data and research practices. Long standing debates about the relationship between “indigenous knowledge” and “science” continue to animate the study of science and technology on the continent and appear to be a particularly strong area of focus for STS scholars working in South African contexts (see for example Foster 2017, Osseo-Asare 2014, Pollock 2014, Green 2012, von Schnitzler 2013, and Hecht - van Sittert 2013 exchange). Green’s work should be an important reference point for scholars grappling with the identity politics of knowledge. Discourse about “Made in Africa, for Africa” and "Africanness" has been noted as a claim for a particularly distinct local expertise (Coban 2018; Crane 2010, 2013; von Schnitzler 2013). Ethical questions about the the responsibilities of researchers to reduce/minimize research fatigue, allow for informed refusal, and enact an ethics/politics of reciprocity and accountability are discussed. Open questions persist about the responsibilities of researchers in developing infrastructures towards protecting, sharing, and maintaining scholarly qualitative source materials.
This essay is part of a broader orals document by Angela Okune querying Science and Technology Studies in Africa. Sub-essays within the orals document can be accessed directly through the following links: Discursive Risk; Deutero; Meta; Macro; Micro; Nano; Techno; Data; Eco.