Rural History 2015

Panel 51

Organizers: Segers, Yves (1); Van Molle, Leen (1); Kerckhofs, Stephanie (1); Karl, Bruno (2); Ndami, Chantal (3)

Affiliation: 1: Interfaculty Centre for Agrarian History (ICAG), University of Leuven, Belgium; 2: SLU, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Section of Agrarian History; 3: Université Paris 7 Diderot

Title: Tropical farming and agricultural knowledge networks in (post)colonial Africa, 1920s-1970s

From the end of 19th century onwards a “Scramble for Africa” took place, whereby European countries carved up most of the African continent. In the following years these European powers developed agricultural policies for their colonies of which the consequences are much debated. Some praise their civilizing and modernizing effects, while others condemn the fact that they disrupted the traditional agricultural systems and the environment. In this context agricultural knowledge was produced and diffused. Initially it was supposed that European powers simply imposed their methods at the expense of local ones, which were regarded as “backward” and “subordinated”. However, recently more attention has been paid to the fact that the colonial experiment paradoxically revealed the limitations and shortcomings of Western approaches in an African environment as well. Hereby the attention was drawn to the usefulness of indigenous methods and knowledge.
The aim of this session is to provide insight into agricultural practices and the processes of agricultural knowledge production, diffusion and reception in (post)colonial Africa. The objective is to transcend older top-down models and instead depart from the perspective of networks. It is interesting to examine which actors were involved in these processes of agricultural knowledge production and diffusion and how these were connected to other actors. What knowledge was produced? Were there tensions noticeable between “indigenous knowledge” and “western knowledge”? How and to who was this agricultural knowledge diffused? By which channels? How did these networks shape agricultural policy and practices? What were the consequences? Was the decolonization a breaking point in this regard?



Chair: Yves Segers, Leuven University, Belgium

Paper 1: Science as solution. The role of agricultural science in fighting off the Great Depression in Belgian Congo

Stephanie Kerckhofs, University of Leuven, Belgium

Paper 2: Gender and French colonial agricultural policy: The issue of soil conservation in Bamileke Grassfields (Cameroon) 1930 – 1960

Chantal Ndami, University Paris 7 Diderot, Laboratoire CESSMA, France

Paper 3: An Experiment in Ethiopia: The Chilalo Agricultural Development Unit as a Swedish-Ethiopian knowledge network, 1967-1974 [+]

Karl Bruno, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden


Suggested deadline for sending completed papers 31 july 2015

© 2014 Rural History 2015