Mi / 10:00 – 11:30

Cake Baking and Knowledge Making

How to Talk About Research in 19th and 20th Century East Africa

Morgan Robinson, KWI International Fellow

Online (Zoom) & Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities Essen (KWI), Room 106, Goethestr. 31, 45128 Essen

The literature on the history of science of the past several decades has thoroughly demonstrated the multiple ways in which historical actors who may not have been designated as “scientists” have often been central to the production of scientific knowledge. The instinct to highlight the contributions of such figures to the research process has been developed for contexts as varied as 17th century England and 20th century South Africa, and was a crucial step in the historical study of science in colonial spaces. My talk borrows from this emancipatory impulse but asks: rather than trying to fit historical knowledge producers into the category of “researcher,” what can we learn through the examination of local designations for knowledge producers? Through a case study about cake-baking on the island of Lamu, Kenya in the 1930s, I want to present a very preliminary suggestion for a complementary conversation to be added to the history of science and knowledge production.