Some of those on the podium are STS people who study medical practices in Africa, so the topic of clinical trials in Africa was discussed. For example, it is sometimes much more difficult to get permission to test new drugs in Europe and North Africa than in many African countries. Plus, in many cases, many people would never have access to the treatment if they did not partake in the tests. Of course, there are discussions on what happens to the test subjects when the test phase is ended. From what I gathered in the discussion, it seems that some steps are being taken, in some cases, to make sure that some of them continue having access to the medication. In this case, it is pretty obvious that the test results form part of the decision to introduce drugs in European and North American markets.
Even the idea of no-consent testing is being introduced in some European countries. This is a case in which your Dr does not have to seek your consent before sending samples off to test for HIV. This was first introduced in certain African countries, and if I understood the speaker correctly, it is currently being practiced in France.
With regards to constitution making, someone from South Africa was part of the committee that ‘made’ the new Kenyan constitution, because the SA constitution is thought to be one of the most progressive in the world. Plus the process of constitution drafting in many African countries is influencing the way people think about the nature of constitution around the world etc., etc.
There was also a discussion of cultural forms that have travelled out of the continent. Nollywood is an example; kente is another one.
I am sure you can think of some economic issues.
After the discussion, my friend asked me a question that totally stumped me: if Africa is a laboratory of globalisation, then some people are the lab scientists. Apart from the obvious medical examples, most of those scientists are social scientists. How come, of all the social science disciplines, one never gets to hear about psychologists working in or doing research in Africa?
I was stumped because I couldn’t think of anyone I know who is a psychologist doing research in Africa; and I haven’t heard of the participation of psychologists qua psychologist in development programmes, not even in post-conflict situations. I am ready to accept that it is possible that I am the one who is totally ignorant, which is why I am throwing this out at readers who are much more experienced in development practice than I am, and who have experiences in parts of Africa where I have never worked.
So, to recapitulate, the bleg is: why do my friend and I never get to hear of psychologists doing research in Africa? Any thoughts are most welcome.