Placing Global Science in Africa: International Networks, Local Places, and Virus Research in Uganda, 1936-2000
Cummiskey, Julia Ross
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“Placing Global Science in Africa: International Networks, Local Places, and Virus Research in Uganda, 1936-2000” analyzes six decades in the history of the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) as a site of knowledge production in order to show the connections between place, scientific research, and the history of Uganda and nearby parts of East Africa. It repositions Africans and African institutions at the core of the narrative, re-centering our understanding of the relationship between global science and African science. Using archival sources, published articles, and over sixty oral history interviews collected during fifteen months of field work, it explores the events that led to the establishment of Africa, and Uganda in particular, as a center of biomedical research, much of it focused on HIV/AIDS. It adds a historical dimension to a body of literature on medical research in Africa that has been dominated by anthropologists and shows how Uganda was a hub of virus research long before the AIDS epidemic. The project takes advantage of the longevity of the UVRI (previously known as the Yellow Fever Research Institute or YFRI and the East African Virus Research Institute or EAVRI) to study the changes and continuities in research practices between colonial, post-colonial, and post-Civil War periods of Ugandan history and to trace changing ideas about the relationship between disease, health, and place; the role of African skilled labor; the place of African institutions in the global community; and the ways African natural and social environments are investigated and represented for different audiences. All of this material serves to refine our understanding of what the “local” of local partnerships in international medical research collaborations signifies and how it shapes major international medical research projects.