AO: Tilley notes that it was not until the nineteenth century, and particularly the period after 1850, that scientific institutions and ideologies began to attain worldwide preeminence. While this worldwide preeminence is related to Europe’s pursuit of global colonialism, she notes it is also a result of factors including the greater organization of scientific congresses; shared nomenclature and methods; professionalization of the biosciences and field sciences; greater circulation of international scientific journals, and the standardization of laws regulating and defining science.
AO: Green notes that knowledge studies are at their strongest when focused on careful study of how knowledge objects come to be generated. She argues that such an approach brings to attention the ways in which research processes bring particular realities into being.
AO: Green notes the difficulty of translating different knowledges is because the sciences have inherited 300 years of tradition: to remove almost all bodily senses except the visual from its ways of knowing. She notes the enumerable – that which can be counted – counts as evidence. She writes: “The archives, databases and evidentiaries measure that which is visible within a particular intellectual heritage, or scholarly orientation. Technologies, in other words, bring particular knowledge objects into being. The implication: programmes of research that look for generative dialogues across knowledge traditions can work towards grasping different measurables, and different evidentiaries, and perhaps need to be bold enough to rethink what it is that technologies could be measuring. In order to pursue this kind of innovation, the methodology is ethnographic: detailed, careful attention to how people know what they claim.” This is important for thinking about what the documentation and opening up of various types of “evidence” or “data” could do towards this work. What other knowledge objects can be captured through repositories like PECE (vs journal article repositories) and what might that do for greater translation of knowleges?
AO: Osseo-Asare notes that in contrast to the healers (who were open with sharing written records and recipes that had been published), scientists were wary of speaking to a historian interested in observing them in their place of work and asking them questions about their personal research narrative. “Most African universities abolished anthropology departments after independence, making a visit from a social researcher to their laboratories and offices especially ironic. Perhaps more secretive than the famously reticent healers, the scientists would rarely reveal the names of plants they were currently researching, even if publications were out and patents filed.” (26)
AO: Abena Osseo-Asare notes the shifts over time to find ways to compensate and acknowledge multiple contributors to drug innovation. She notes that originally colonial occupation allowed for the obfuscation of the names of plant medicine experts who advised visiting botanists and chemists. By the 1950s, African nationalist scientists sought to be added to the roster of discoverers, assigning their names to patents, papers, and products but they often continued to omit the names of traditional healers or family members who had less access to the language of the laboratory but who had assisted them in their research (200).
AO: Osseo-Asare notes the challenges with finding this information given the incentive not to notate the many different stakeholders involved in creating and producing the knowledge.
Due to the legal incentive to establish “priority” groups of plant experts have constructed narratives of priority, omitting details on the many protagonists participating in knowledge production (10)
AO: Osseo-Asare writes: “African scientists, trained in new universities in their countries and abroad, collected signs of their contributions to science to secure careers at national institutes or to maintain consultancies with NGOs and international companies. African scientists traced their intellectual lineage to European societies, where from the 1700s a class of noblemen, primarily white, codified their ideas in an elite discourse of natural philosophy. These early “men of science,” as they began to call themselves, met in salons and emerging schools to discuss new ways to or ga nize plants and animals and to test hypotheses about minerals. As membership in the science professions grew, practitioners became less likely to share their ideas widely. Twentieth- century scientists have protected their ideas through a mix of lectures, publications, and, increasingly, patents. Even in regimes of shared knowledge, such as open- source software development, participants have developed ways to track their unique contributions. Scientists in Madagascar, Cameroon, Ghana, and South Africa inherited approaches to knowledge management through school systems initiated during the colonial period, and they participated in global standards for information sharing after independence.” (12-13)
AO: Foster includes resources under Appendix 1 of community protocol and research guidelines for working with indigenous people (pages 133 - 134).
AO: She notes using email and Skype to build and maintain relationships even while not in South Africa.
AO: She notes that private legal documents and indigenous customary knowledge were rightly kept from her and she sought to practice and is subject to the kind of ethnographic refusal that Audra Simpson describes (“what you need to know and what I refuse to write in”). (24)
AO: As a group that has been heavily researched and have not felt like they received the benefits of the work, Foster notes the protocols and guidelines put in place to try to ammeliorate/address the lack of benefits from research.
AO: Breckenridge notes that technologies of biometric registration are now seen as the most promising remedy for bureaucratic incapacity on the African continent. He is interested in how processes of identification working together make up an infrastructure of citizenship – a set of slowly emerging rules, standards and networks of communication – which give any state distinctive cen- tres and a distinctive political character.
AO: Breckenridge argues that a biometric state is “a state that is organised around technologies and architectures of identification that are very different – and which function politically very differently – from the older forms of written identification that have produced the modern state.” (8)
AO: interestingly, von Schnitzler merges a macro and techno analysis to argue that technology itself becomes a political terrain for the negotiation of moral-political questions about limits, entitlements and obligations of citizenship in SA (671).
AO: von Schnitzler notes the protagonists were the “users,” the “cunning water thieves,” the “economic saboteurs,” the “bad payers,” “tamperers,” “electricity poachers,” and the residents with “political problems” who pull out, bypass, break, or rewire the devices requiring the constant innovation of new “anti-programs” (“smarter meters,” “security seals,” tools that “audit,” “track,” “monitor,” and “enable remote disconnections”). She notes technical expertise is produced in constant conflict with what one might, with Callon, Lascoumes, and Barthe (2009), term “expertise in the wild.” (687)
AO: She does not talk about the data practices of those studied.