The Scientific Imagination in South Africa: 1700 to the Present

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Cambridge University Press, May 20, 2021 - History - 418 pages
South Africa provides a unique vantage point from which to examine the scientific imagination over the last three centuries, when its position on the African continent made it a staging post for Portuguese, Dutch, and British colonialism. In the eighteenth century, South African plants and animals caught the imagination of visiting Europeans. In the nineteenth century, science became central to imperial conquest, devastating wars, agricultural intensification and the exploitation of rich mineral resources. Scientific work both facilitated, and offered alternatives to, the imposition of segregation and apartheid in the twentieth century. William Beinart and Saul Dubow offer an innovative exploration of science and technology in this complex, divided society. Bridging a range of disciplines from astronomy to zoology, they demonstrate how scientific knowledge shaped South Africa's peculiar path to modernity. In so doing, they examine the work of remarkable individual scientists and institutions, as well as the contributions of leading politicians from Jan Smuts to Thabo Mbeki.


Scientific Imagination and Local Knowledge at the Cape
Scientific Governance and Colonial Institutions c 180070
Technological Innovation and the Scientific Imagination
Science Reconstruction and the Imagining of the First
The Commonwealth of Knowledge 193048
The Republic of Science 194890

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About the author (2021)

William Beinart is Emeritus Professor, St Antony's College, University of Oxford and former Director of the African Studies Centre. His publications include The Rise of Conservation in South Africa (2003), Environment and Empire (2007) with Lotte Hughes, Prickly Pear: A Social History of a Plant in the Eastern Cape (2011) with Luvuyo Wotshela, African Local Knowledge & Livestock Health (2013) with Karen Brown and Rights to Land (2017) with Peter Delius and Michelle Hay. Saul Dubow is Smuts Professor of Commonwealth History at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of books, edited collections, and articles about nineteenth and twentieth-century South African history including Scientific Racism in Modern South Africa (1995), A Commonwealth of Knowledge (2006), South Africa's Struggle for Human Rights (2012), and Apartheid 1948-1994 (2014). He is the editor of Science and Society in Southern Africa (2000).

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