‘Trial communities’: anthropological and historical studies of scientific research in Africa

This Leverhulme Trust Research Award provides core support to our group. The programme’s aim is to develop, as a research group, novel approaches to the anthropological and historical study of medical and related scientific research and intervention in Africa. Projects under this grant include studies of District Health management teams’ co-operation with international academic bodies; MSFs engagement with malaria control initiatives; pharmacist training and urban toxicology in Senegal; cassava biofortification for nutrition in Nigeria; and North-South scientific capacity transfer.

The emphasis is on the post-colonial period and the present, on ways in which the past in its various material and immaterial forms takes effect in the present, and on innovative methodologies that work across ethnographic and archival approaches, and draw upon neighbouring disciplines such as geography, archaeology and science and technology studies.

Memorials and remains of medical research in Africa: an anthropology of scientific landscapes, ruins and artefacts (ESRC-ANR-NWO)

This project explores the ways in which biomedical research generates memory and how its practices are remembered, memorialized, commemorated, erased and lived through in African institutions, populations and landscapes. Our investigation of memory focuses on three medical research stations in formerly French, German and British colonies in Africa. Combining archival and ethnographic methods, we will excavate the political and material trajectories of these field laboratories, ascertain the affective resonance of their past purposes in their present form, and describe the social texture of their everyday life. In so doing, this collaborative enterprise seeks to enrich comparative imperial and post-colonial history, sociological understandings of science, the anthropology of African modernities, and international medical research ethics.

The history of medical research in Nigeria (British Academy International Partnership with IFRA-Nigeria)

This partnership aims to extend the European collaborations being developed
through the successful ESRC-ANR-NWO “Memorials and remains of medical research in Africa” project (2011-2014), to include an Africa-based partner institution, IFRA-Nigeria, in order to develop Nigerian research, teaching capacity and scholarly production in the history of medicine, with a specific focus on the history of medical research (both clinical and pharmaceutical) in Nigeria.

It combines a training programme in theory and methodology of history of
medicine in Africa with a competitive, peer-reviewed selection process for the
award of field research grants to assist in the development of a new field of
research in Nigerian history. The partnership will enable a strong African scholarly
contingent to take part in the events and dissemination plans arising from the
ESRC-ORA grant, including the constitution of a Nigerian panel at the final
conference in Spring 2014, and publication of output within Nigeria and in leading
scholarly journals.

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