Dienstag, 05. Mai 2015, 17:00 - 19:00 iCal


Nervousness in a Colonial Milieu: Congo’s Equateur, 1900-55

Nancy Rose Hunt (University of Michigan)

Seminarraum 3, Institut für Afrikawissenschaften
Spitalgasse 2, Hof 5, 1090 Wien


The Belgian African milieu of Equateur, subjected to terrible imperial violence in the 1900s, attracted scientific attention from the 1930s for high rates of childlessness and sterility. I avoid narrating this history with an event-aftermath narrative form. (See my “A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo”, Duke University Press, forthcoming.) Rather, with a heuristic of a colonial state with two faces, I show how the biopolitical face sought out Congolese as patients and research subjects, while investigating the birth rate, rolling out penicillin, and establishing an infertility clinic. The state’s nervous face tracked risk; it confronted, exiled, and incarcerated restless Congolese therapeutic rebels. Vernacular healing comes to fore not alongside biomedicine therefore, but as insurgency and reverie espied through colonial security practices.

Nancy Rose Hunt, Professor of History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor & currently Résident, Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Paris, 2014-2015

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Ulrike Auer
Institut für Afrikawissenschaften