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Chapter 5 - The Salvation of Science

from Part II - Implementation of the Development Episteme

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 October 2020

Corrie Decker
Affiliation:
University of California, Davis
Elisabeth McMahon
Affiliation:
Tulane University, Louisiana
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Summary

This first chapter in Part II, which deals with colonial and postcolonial implementation of the development episteme into policies and practices, traces early colonial development investments in “scientific” studies of Africa. Furnished with their own mission to modernize, the scientific development experts of the twentieth century supplanted the Christian missionary as the moral and intellectual authority on progress for Africa. Despite its humanitarian origins, the majority of development funding during the early colonial era was designed to jump-start the decimated economies of post–World War I Europe – not Africa, especially during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Development policies of the interwar period focused on large-scale infrastructure, industrialization, and agricultural projects that would generate sizeable returns for the metropoles and employment opportunities for Europeans. Colonial development funding bolstered the budgets of colonial departments of public health, agriculture, forestry, mining, commerce, and, education. Colonial administrations also relied on social scientists such as anthropologists and sociologists to investigate development problems and offer solutions they hoped would be both profitable for the state and beneficial to African communities. Scientific studies of development issues were not merely imposed on Africa and Africans but were often the product of Western engagement with African systems of knowledge.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Idea of Development in Africa
A History
, pp. 103 - 121
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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