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Africa as a Living LaboratoryEmpire, Development, and the Problem of Scientific Knowledge, 1870-1950$
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Helen Tilley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226803463

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226803487.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

An Environmental Laboratory

An Environmental Laboratory

“Native” Agriculture, Tropical Infertility, and Ecological Models of Development

(p.115) Chapter Three An Environmental Laboratory
Africa as a Living Laboratory
University of Chicago Press

This chapter investigates a pivotal transition that took place during the colonial period, facilitated by agricultural departments and environmental scientists. Agriculture was, and would remain, at the center of African economies. The agricultural research described in the chapter repeatedly repelled against the wholesale transfer of European norms to African environments and offered a wide range of different approaches to modernization and development. The factors that impacted both scientific research and agricultural development in Africa are elaborated. The trajectory of studies of agriculture in Northern Rhodesia was a prime example of the ways scientists, colonial officials, and technical specialists wrestled with the issues. Northern Rhodesia's colonial officials attempted to expand crop production for both internal and external markets. The auto-critique that emerged among research scientists and technical specialists at both the territorial and inter-territorial levels fazed colonial certainties, and opened up a space to take ecological specificities and subaltern knowledge more seriously.

Keywords:   agricultural departments, agriculture, African economies, modernization, Africa, Northern Rhodesia, crop production

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