Environmental Sciences in a Small Place: Ideas, Policies, and Practices in the Kingdom of Lesotho
Surrounded by South Africa, Lesotho’s historical and present characteristics make it an ideal case to explore the global processes that encapsulate ecological change, science, capitalism, development, and the geopolitics of north-south relations. The chapters in this book will be organized around, among other topics, veterinary science, forestry, and soil and rangeland sciences. Each science is examined as an unbounded field of knowledge, one that has been produced by a wide range of actors across different spaces. Building on scholarship that explores the intersection of political ecology and science studies, Environmental Sciences will show how Lesotho’s agricultural professionals, farmers, chiefs, teachers, workers, and politicians participated critically in the production, circulation, and application of these sciences. Through stories of critical participation, I argue, we gain a clearer view of the pitfalls and possibilities of science in the past and its limits in shaping human behavior. My book will offer an historical analog for understanding current ecological crises and furthermore, what role science ought to play in addressing these crises. The project is based on my PhD dissertation, completed in 2017 at Boston University and titled, “Wisdom Does Not Live in One House’: Compiling Environmental Knowledge in Lesotho, Southern Africa, c. 1880-1965.”
In 2017-18, I conducted field research to begin a new project while developing my dissertation into a book manuscript as a post-doctoral fellow at an initiative called Innovative Methods and Metrics for Agriculture and Nutrition Actions. IMMANA is based out of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. As a fellow, I returned to Lesotho, South Africa , and the UK for further research into the social and environmental history of pellagra, a nutritional disease that has emerged in populations where refined maize meal has been the staple food. As an historian, I reconstructed the various parts of the historical period in the 1950s and 60s where this condition flourished: the political economy of food systems, climate variability, crop choices, and food preferences. By understanding how these factors fit together in the past, we gain a better sense of how to create agriculture and nutrition policy in the present.
“Origins and Pathways of Agricultural Demonstration in Lesotho, Southern Africa, c. 1924-1960s,” Agricultural History, 93, 2 (2019): forthcoming.
Manuscripts in Preparation:
“(Un)Cultivating the Disease of Maize: An Environmental History of Pellagra in Lesotho.”
Under Review by the Journal of Southern African Studies.
“‘Getting Our Grass Back’: Knowledge, Grazing Policy, and Practice in Lesotho, c. 1933-1950s.” In progress for submission to the International Journal of African Historical Studies.
“Tsoelopele ea Basotho: Towards a Critical History of Progress in Lesotho.” In progress.