Why is the decolonization of the history of modern science and technology important? So that we can understand why Francis Bacon’s iconic title page image of a European caravella navigating through the pillars of Hercules in his book Instauratio Magna (Great Instauration, 1620) or Novum Organum Scientiarum (“new instrument of science”), which indicated the new program for modern empirical (colonial) scientific development, was actually taken from Andrés García de Céspedes’s book, Regimiento de navegación (Madrid, 1606). This shows the Northwestern European (Dutch, British, German), Protestant hegemonic shift, which stigmatized the downfall of “luxurious”, “inefficient”, “rapacious”, “unindustrialized”, “state-led capitalist” Spain, the Iberian or Southwestern European imperial-colonial project, against the “industrial revolution” and “scientific revolution” of the Northerners, the latter of which the image became a symbol. The deconstruction of this narrative is important in revealing the concealed global histories of colonial scientific and technological development, which was partly a precondition for the development in the new hegemonic centre in Europe. The South American decolonialist approach might be an important influence in decolonizing Eastern European knowledge production, since the Northwestern-Atlantic-Protestant narrative of scientific development, largely present in social scientists’ work such as Max Weber or Karl Marx, was dominantly diffused in Eastern Europe as our Eurocentric understanding of global scientific and economic development. I was educated according to this narrative already in primary school. This story will be included in my chapter on decolonizing Eastern European history of science and technology in the book Technosciences of Post/Socialism planned to be published somewhere in 2018.
Just discovered Ousmane Sembène, one of the founders of (black) African cinema. One of his movies, Ceddo (1977) presents the relatively undiscovered historical topic of the Islamization of black Africa, the conflict of Islam and Christianity intertwined with ethnic relations, traditional values, and the slave trade. It was banned in Senegal.
The Pickers shows a group of Romanian migrant workers at a UK strawberry farm who alternate their intensive strawberry picking with the editing and mediation of a 20th century film archive of British migrant hop pickers. Sited in a parallel reality distinctions are blurred as to where and when events are set, as they are between notions of labour and leisure, and the identity of an archive and its dissemination. ‘The Pickers’ becomes a dream; a Romanian advertisement to British migrant workers to come to Romania.
Maja and Reuben Fowkes wrote about this film in Art Monthly:
“A curious prequel to recent developments could be seen in Adam Chodzko’s insightftul 2009 film The Pickers, which addressed the nuances of economic migration by following the story of a group of young Romanians working in the strawberry industry in Kent. The scenario revolves around young East European labourers engaged in editing archive footage of seasonal hop pickers from the East End and reflecting on their own experience ofworking on a state-of-the-art agricultural plant in Kent. Scenes of men, women and children worhng together in the outdoors while blithely chatting away appear idyllically stress-free in comparison to the depersonalised, high-tech world of industrial market gardening, where every action of the labourer is scanned and calculated. In a moment of reverie, the Romanian worker-editors imagine a future in which the British would be attracted to make the reverse journey to work on Romanian farms, where the importance of workers’ relationship to the land and the social quality of labour are not yet extinct notions.”
You can read about the event and all later conferences on wikipedia.
“The ‘All-African Peoples Conference’ (AAPC) was partly a corollary and partly a different perspective to the modern Africa states represented by the Conference of Heads of independent Africa States. The ‘All-Africa Peoples Conference’ was conceived to include social groups, including ethnic communities and anti-colonial political parties and African organizations such as Labor Unions and other significant associations in the late 1950s and early 1960s both in Africa and the Diaspora such as Europe, North America and South America.
The first conference was preceded by a Preparatory Committee composed of representatives from the eight independent African states—other than South Africa. (They were Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, and the United Arab Republic.) The conference itself was attended by delegates from 28 African countries and colonies. The number of delegates was more than 300, and the conference claimed that they represented more than 200 million people from all parts of Africa. Tom Mboya, General Secretary of the Kenya Federation of Labour, was elected chairman.
One important discussion was over the legitimacy and desirability of using violence against the colonial powers. It was agreed that violence would be necessary in some cases. Concerning the struggle in Algeria, full support was given to the recently proclaimed Provisional Republican Government (Gouvernement Provisoire de la République Algérienne—GPRA). On the Cameroon, the Conference supported the fight of the UPC maquis, demanding full amnesty and UN-sponsored elections. The Conference considered unity and solidarity to be key strategies in the fight against colonialism and economic domination after colonialism; it called for the establishment of Africa-wide organisations, including trade unions youth groups, and a Bureau of Liberatory Movements. It was at this meeting that the decision was made to establish a permanent secretariat at Accra. The first secretary-general was George Padmore, then living in Ghana. The following year, he died and was replaced by Guinea’s Resident Minister in Ghana, Abdoulaye Diallo.”
On November 14, I will be holding a lecture and seminar in the frames of a lecture series about sustainable development in Central and Eastern Europe at Kaposvár University in Hungary.
The critical geographies of scientific knowledge and urban policy mobilities
Why and how do theories and policies travel? Who are involved in mobilizing and adapting them to local contexts and interests? What social groups do they affect and who benefits or gets disadvantaged? This class aims to encourage students to engage critically in these questions by introducing literature on the geographies of scientific knowledge and urban policy mobilities. These approaches argue that theories and policy models spread through transnational networks of communication, and their production and dissemination are conditioned by their sites, spaces, scales and circulations of operation. Increasing globalization has led to “fast policy”, “mobile urbanism”, and a global market of expertise and policy models in urban development, which called forth a relational view of cities against “cities-as-territories”.
The class first provides an overview of some considerations in analyzing historical, geographical, sociological and political aspects in the production of scientific knowledge, such as the notions of “truth spots”, “invisible colleges”, “gatekeepers of knowledge”, “scientific provincialism”, “travelling knowledge”, or the politics of translation. Second, we turn more specifically to the global circulation of urban policies, by showing the social and ideological contexts of the policy-making process, the politics of policy knowledge production, and the processes of policy circulation and adaptation. Third, after revising some popular examples of urban development models and their scientific legitimation, we focus more concretely on deconstructing the highly debated “creative city” concept.
By presenting a critical stance towards “successful” policies, “best practices” and policy branding, the class offers students tools to discover the uneasy dynamics between scientific knowledge and policy-making, and helps them develop their critical interpretative skills in understanding how development discourse and policy-making affects their urban environments.
Suggested reading for the class:
Peck, J. (2005): Struggling with the Creative Class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(4): 740–770.
Livingstone, D. N. (2003): Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
McCann, E., Ward, K. (Eds.)(2011): Mobile Urbanism: Cities and Policymaking in the Global Age. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.
Peck, J., Theodore, N. (2015): Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.
Cook, I. R., Ward, K. (2011): Trans-urban Networks of Learning, Mega Events and Policy Tourism: The Case of Manchester’s Commonwealth and Olympic Games Projects. Urban Studies, 48: 2519–2535.
Gonzalez, S. (2011): Bilbao and Barcelona ‘in motion’. How urban regeneration ‘models’ travel and mutate in the global flows of policy tourism. Urban Studies, 48(7): 1397–1418.
Jacobs, J. M. (2012): Urban geographies I: Still thinking cities relationally. Progress in Human Geography, 36(3): 412–422.
Larner W., Laurie N. (2010): Travelling technocrats, embodied knowledges: Globalising privatisation in telecoms and water. Geoforum, 41: 218–226.
McCann, E. J. (2008): Expertise, Truth, and Urban Policy Mobilities: Global Circuits of Knowledge in the Development of Vancouver, Canada’s ‘Four Pillar’ Drug Strategy. Environment and Planning A, 40: 885–904.
McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2010): Relationality/Territoriality: Towards a Conceptualization of Cities in the World. Geoforum, 41: 175–184.
McCann, E. J. (2011): Urban Policy Mobilities and Global Relational Geographies: Toward a Research Agenda. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101: 107–130.
McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2014): Exploring Urban Policy Mobilities: The Case of Business Improvement Districts. Sociologica, 1: 1–20.
McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2015): Thinking Through Dualisms in Urban Policy Mobilities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39(4): 828–830.
Oancă, A. (2015): Europe is not elsewhere: The mobilization of an immobile policy in the lobbying by Perm (Russia) for the European Capital of Culture title. European Urban and Regional Studies, 22(2): 179–190.
Peck, J., Theodore, N. (2010) Mobilizing policy: Models, methods, and mutations. Geoforum, 41 (2010) 169–174.
Pomfret, R., Wilson, J. K., Lobmayr, B. (2009): Bidding for Sport Mega-Events. School of Economics. Working Paper Series, 30.
Prince, Russel (2010): Globalizing the Creative Industries Concept: Travelling Policy and Transnational Policy Communities. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 40: 119–139.
Ward, K. (2005): Entrepreneurial urbanism and the management of the contemporary city. The example of Business Improvement Districts. Transnational Seminar Lecture Paper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Center for Global Studies.
Ward, K., Cook, I. R. (2012): Conferences, informational infrastructures and mobile policies: the process of getting Sweden ‘BID ready’. European Urban and Regional Studies, 19: 137–152.
My latest plan is to send two abstracts to the 17th International Conference of Historical Geographers in Warsaw, July 15-20 and one – the latter abstract here provided – to the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting in New Orleans, April 10-14 in 2018. In the first case, the first abstract will hopefully be part of the following session:
– SESSION –
Global Histories of Geography 1930–1990
Convenors: Ruth Craggs (King’s College London) and Hannah Neate (Manchester Metropolitan University)
Reflecting on the key centres associated with the emergence of geography as a spatial science in the 1960s Barnes (2002, 508) remarked: “Why are places in Africa not on there, or Asia, or Australasia?” thereby highlighting significant gaps in disciplinary histories and accounts of geography’s development in the second half of the twentieth century. By way of response, this session aims to highlight work into the ‘global’ histories of geography in the period 1930-1990, a period marked by geopolitical transitions including WWII, decolonization and the end of the Cold War. We are looking to make links with scholars who are carrying out research on the history and practice of geography, specifically in submissions that explore scholarly communities of geographers whose contribution to the development of geography in the twentieth century often goes unrecognised in the ‘canon’ of geographical research.
Possible themes for papers:
- Papers focusing on geographers from the global South, Indigenous geographers in settler states, Asian geographies and geographers, geographers from the former Eastern Block
- Biographies of individuals or groupings of geographers
- Accounts that highlight how geography was being pursued in other ‘centres’
- The role and development of national and international disciplinary associations and networks
- Geographical knowledge, expertise and intersections with decolonization and the end of the Cold War
– ABSTRACTS –
Historical geographies of the “quantitative revolution”: Towards a transnational history of central place theory
Geography’s “quantitative revolution” has been a true textbook chronicle in the discipline’s canonical history. However, historical research has only recently seriously begun to unravel the geographical contexts of its emergence, which is complicated by the simplified narratives that emerged in critical revisionism from the 1970s. This paper offers an interpretative framework from the perspective of the historical geographies of scientific knowledge (HGSK), by focusing on Christaller’s central place theory (CPT) to deconstruct the common Anglo-American narrative, arguing that it has concealed other contexts in the “Second” and “Third” worlds. Early applications (especially in Germany, Poland, Netherlands, Israel) and the wider European discourse of “central places” call for a reevaluation of the canonized narratives of CPT. The globalization of CPT is interpreted through the rising American hegemony in the early Cold War era, which led to the Americanization of German location theories in modernization theory discourse. Networks behind the American, British and Canadian centres show the importance of European locations, such as the Swedish hub in Lund, and the “planning laboratories” of Asian, South American and African contexts after decolonization. Soviet and Eastern Bloc reformism and the institutionalization of regional planning from the late 1950s summoned CPT in the service of centralized state planning, and ignited debates of adaptability between “socialist” and “capitalist” contexts. By reflecting on some of these cases, this paper argues for a transnational history of CPT by readdressing issues of narrativity and historical periodization, and shows the need for provincializing and decolonizing dominant Anglo-American geographical knowledge production.
“The Ghana job”: Opening Hungary to the developing world
Based on interviews, archival and media sources, this paper looks at how post-WWII socialist Hungary developed foreign economic relations with decolonized countries, by focusing on the emergence of Hungarian development and area studies and development advocacy expertise towards developing countries. The paper’s case study is the Centre for Afro-Asian Research (CAAR) founded at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1963 – from 1973 the Institute for World Economy (IWE) – parallel to similar institutions founded in the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc states. CAAR was established as a government think tank by József Bognár, a close friend to Prime Minister János Kádár and perhaps one of the most important figures in socialist era Hungarian reform economics and foreign policy-making. The institute rose as a consequence of the “Ghana job”: Hungarian economists led by Bognár developed the First Seven-Year Plan of Ghana in 1962. The associates of CAAR and IWE promoted export-oriented growth against import-substitution industrialization and summoned geographical development concepts such as “poorly developed countries”, “dependency”, “semiperiphery”, “open economies”, or “small countries” as alternatives to the Cold War categories of “capitalist” and “socialist” world systems. This shift in geographical knowledge production is connected to the geopolitical contexts of the Sino-Soviet split, the Khrushchevian “opening up” of foreign relations, the emergence of the “Third World”, and also the 1956 revolution in the case of Hungary. The role of Ghana and the Eastern Bloc is connected to the 1960s wave of transnational development consultancy and strategies of “socialist globalization”.
My research report to the Open Society Archives turned out to be a draft of a lengthy working paper that summarizes some of the materials I have been working with. You can read about my OSA research proposal here.
Even from this vastly text I had to leave out a lot of other materials. Unfortunately I will only have time to work again on this later, so I decided to share here some thoughts that could not be included.
One of the books that were very influential to me (but haven’t included into the draft) gave me a great overview of the early Eastern European relations towards decolonizing/ed Africa (the “Third World”). What I find most interesting is not only the relative autonomy of the Eastern Bloc in developing their foreign relations, but also the continuities between previous colonial era and postcolonial relations. Another issue is the role of China, not only how the Sino-Soviet split influenced the Soviet Union to maintain the relative autonomy of the Eastern Bloc, but also China’s early postcolonial trajectories in gaining a foothold in Africa.
“By 1958, well before substantial new opportunities arose south of the Sahara, East Europe’s trade with Asia, the Middle East, and some parts of Africa was already greater than that of the Soviet Union; ithad more than doubled since 1954 and amounted to approximately five per cent of the area’s total trade. Some of this commercial activity, of course, was no more than a partial return to normal trade patterns that had been interrupted by the war and later inhibited for political and ideological reasons. Yet the very fact that old patterns existed and could be resumed was important, since the arrival of East European traders and governmental representatives in Africa did not appear to the new states as a novel or menacing overture, but rather as a natural resumption of established policies.”
— Robert and Elizabeth Bass: Eastern Europe, in: Zbigniew Brzezinski: Africa and the Communist World, Hoover Institution, 1963, p. 88.
A magyar közgazdász delegáció megérkezése Accrába 1962-ben, hogy kidolgozzák Ghána hétéves tervét. Balról jobbra: Bácskai Tamás (Bognár asszisztense, egyetemi docens), Kós Péter (nagykövet), Kwame Nkrumah (a Ghánai Köztársaság elnöke), Bognár József (főtanácsadó), Székely Gábor (Bognár asszisztense, mérnökközgazdász).
The Hungarian delegation of economists arrive in Accra to develop Ghana’s First Seven-Year Plan in 1962. From left to right: Tamás Bácskai (Bognár’s assistant, associate professor), Péter Kós (first ambassador), Kwame Nkrumah (President of the Republic of Ghana), József Bognár (chief advisor), Gábor Székely (Bognár’s assistant, economic engineer).
Magyar Hírek, 1962. május 1.