'Experts', Settlers and Africans: the production of local agricultural knowledge in early colonial Zimbabwe
Eduard Gargallo (ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa)
Paper short abstract:
The aim of this paper is to analyse how scientific discourse and policies dealing with crops and livestock were established in early colonial Zimbabwe, which ideas and practices became accepted as scientifically sound, and, therefore, how 'local' agricultural knowledge was developed.
Paper long abstract:
In the context of European expansion in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Southern Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe) became a white settlement colony which was expected to develop a strong agricultural sector. The aim of this paper is to analyse how scientific discourse and policies dealing with crops and animal husbandry were established in Rhodesia, which ideas and practices became accepted as scientifically sound, and who was expected to master this scientific expertise. Our findings are in line with recent historiography dealing with the development of colonial science, the evolution of sciences in colonial contexts and the production of 'local knowledge' which is gradually becoming more nuanced. Interactions as well as contradictions between local and Imperial knowledge are highlighted, together with the partial incorporation of African knowledge into scientists' ideas. Through the analysis of agricultural, and especially veterinary, research and its application before the First World War, we will see how the links and collaboration between international, Imperial, and local institutions and individuals was far from unproblematic; how the relationship between scientists and the growing number of European farmers was often conflictive; and how scientists' views of African knowledge and practices was ambiguous and contradictory. Rhodesian agricultural and veterinary science and policies went through a process of gradual 'localisation' in the years before the First World War and Rhodesia provides an example of how 'local' knowledge was being developed in the African 'frontier' and how this knowledge informed agricultural and export policies that have remained influential to this very day.
Commodity frontiers and knowledge regimes in Africa, 1800 to present