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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Guest Lecture - Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga - The Mobile Workshop: The Tsetse Fly and African Knowledge Production

13.06.2019, 16.00 -18.00
S 91 (GW I) Campus

Professor Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga (MIT, USA)

The Mobile Workshop: The Tsetse Fly and African Knowledge Production

The tsetse fly is a pan-African insect that bites an infective forest animal and ingests blood filled with invisible parasites, which it carries and transmits into cattle and people as it bites them, leading to n'gana (animal trypanosomiasis) and
sleeping sickness. Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga examines how the presence of the tsetse fly turned the forests of Zimbabwe and southern Africa into an open laboratory where African knowledge formed the basis of colonial tsetse control
policies. He traces the pestiferous work that an indefatigable, mobile insect does through its movements, and the work done by humans to control it.

Mavhunga's account restores the central role not just of African labor but of African intellect in the production of knowledge about the tsetse fly. He describes how European colonizers built on and beyond this knowledge toward destructive and
toxic methods, including cutting down entire forests, forced "prophylactic" resettlement, massive destruction of wild animals, and extensive spraying of organochlorine pesticides.

Clapperton Chakanetsa Mavhunga joined MIT as an assistant professor in 2008 after completing his PhD at the University of Michigan. His professional interests lie in the history, theory, and practice of science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the international context, with a focus on Africa.

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