New Anthropologies of African Biosciences Publication TRACES OF THE FUTURE mereaf-cover

This book, based on a decade of collaboration between its editors and contributing scholars and artists, presents a close look at the vestiges of twentieth-century medical work at five key sites in Africa, located in Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon, Kenya, and Tanzania. The contributors aim to understand the afterlife of scientific institutions and practices and the “aftertime” of scientific modernist visions of progress and transformation. scholarly presentation is juxtaposed here with altogether more experimental approaches to fieldwork and analysis, including interview fragments; brief, reflective essays; and a rich photographic archive. The result is an unprecedented view of the lingering traces of medical science from Africa’s past.

Traces of the future: an archaeology of medical science in Africa, edited by PW Geissler, G Lachenal, J Manton and N Tousignant is available now through Intellect, University of Chicago Press, and on Amazon in the United Kingdom and United States of America

Anthropologies of African Biosciences (AAB) is a network of scholars concerned with the sites, practices, and legacies of biomedical and field biological research in Africa. Longinus Pamba.Lab.2 webFounded by anthropologists and historians, collaborating across arts, humanities and social sciences, our interests range from technology to aesthetics, political economy to ethics, and across the continent, with a sub-Saharan focus, from Senegal, The Gambia, Ghana, and Nigeria in the West, through Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Malawi in Central Africa, to Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda in the East. Our methods draw from a wide range of disciplines, and engage in conversations with the sciences and the visual and literary arts, in order to investigate and illuminate social, cultural, spatial and temporal dimensions of science in Africa in all its richness.

Our interest in the ethos, practice, and traces of science as a longstanding mode of engagement with African development and ideas of potential and failure, draws upon a decade of interdisciplinary work, through which we have developed a unique historical-anthropological approach to medicine and science in Africa, creatively stretching our disciplinary limitations. Foregrounding temporality in our anthropological work on science – memory and anticipation, waiting and deferral, decay and restoration, forgetting and commemoration – our work is about the presence of the past, including absent presences, and about past and present futures in contemporary scientific work and lives. At the same time we have continuously expanded the sources and traction of historical analysis by treating remains, traces and sites of past bioscience as alternative forms of archive, and by conducting “ethnographies” of conventional archival repositories.