Archaeologies

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 251–289 | Cite as

The African Eve Effect in Science

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Abstract

The Matthew and Matilda Effects in science were coined in 1968 (Robert K. Merton) and in 1993 (Margaret W. Rossiter) respectively, as tools to analyse the reward systems of science. By proposing the African Eve Effect in science as a third effect, the original scope for analysis of these systems is broadened from the social structure of science to the anthropological dimension of science. Similarly, the ‘psychosocial processes’ that were considered as affecting the reward systems (Merton, Science 159:56–63, 1968) are extended to include discursive practices. The African Eve Effect refers to the scientific notion of the ‘African Eve’ (or mitochondrial (mtDNA) Eve), a concept put forward by scientists to designate the genetic mother of all modern humans. Three discursive conventions constitute the African Eve Effect and together shape patterns of the distribution of recognition for scientific work: projecting imaginative geographies of otherness onto the frontiers of science; collecting, transporting and enframing material and ideas according to a Western epistemological order; and ‘evolutionising’ nature and the human in science. The objective of this paper is to specify and illustrate an experimental tool for analysing the entanglement of the reward system in science with culturally fashioned imaginaries and agendas.

Key Words

African Eve Effect Reward systems of science Anthropological dimension of science Imaginative geographies Frontiers of science 

Résumé

Les concepts des Effets Matthew et Mathilda en sciences ont été inventés respectivement en 1968 par Robert K. Merton et en 1993 par Margaret W. Rossiter en vue d’analyser les systèmes de récompense dans le domaine de la science. En proposant comme troisième effet l’Effet Ève africain en sciences, le champ d’application d’origine pour l’analyse de ces systèmes est étendu à la dimension anthropologique de la science en plus de la structure sociale de celle-ci. De la même manière, les « processus psychosociaux » qui étaient considérés comme influençant les systèmes de récompense (Merton, Science 159:56–63, 1968) sont élargis pour englober les pratiques discursives. L’Effet Ève africain fait référence à la notion scientifique de l’Ève africain (ou Ève mitochondriale, ADNmt), une théorie présentée par des scientifiques pour désigner la mère génétique de l’ensemble de tous les êtres humains modernes. Trois conventions discursives caractérisent l’Effet Ève africain et déterminent ensemble les aspects du partage de la reconnaissance du travail scientifique : la présentation des géographies imaginatives de l’autre aux frontières de la science ; le recueil, la transmission et la présentation des objets et des idées selon l’ordre épistémologique occidental, et l’évolution de la nature et de l’être humain dans les sciences. Cette étude vise à définir et à illustrer une méthode expérimentale afin d’analyser l’intrication du système de récompense des sciences dans les imaginaires et les objectifs façonnés par la culture.

Resumen

Los efectos Matthew y Matilda son términos acuñados en 1968 (por Robert K. Merton) y en 1993 (por Margaret W. Rossiter) respectivamente, como herramientas para analizar los sistemas de recompensas de la ciencia. Proponiendo el término Eva Africana en la ciencia a modo de tercer efecto, el alcance original para analizar estos sistemas se amplía: pasa de abordar la estructura social de la ciencia a tratar su dimensión antropológica. De forma similar, los procesos psicosociales que se creía que afectaba a los sistemas de recompensas (Merton, Science 159:56–63, 1968) se amplían para incluir prácticas discursivas. El efecto Eva Africana alude al concepto científico de la Eva Negra (o Eva mitocondrial [mtADN]), un concepto utilizado por los científicos para designar a la madre genética de todos los humanos modernos. Son tres las convenciones discursivas que constituyen el efecto de la Eva Africana y juntas conforman los patrones de la distribución de reconocimiento del trabajo científico: proyectar las geografías imaginativas de la otredad en las fronteras de la ciencia; recoger, transportar y enmarcar material e ideas según un orden occidental epistemológico; y hacer evolucionar la naturaleza y lo humano en la ciencia. El objetivo de este trabajo es especificar e ilustrar una herramienta experimental que permita analizar el enredo del sistema de recompensas en la ciencia y los imaginarios y agendas tan basados en lo cultural.

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Copyright information

© World Archaeological Congress 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BaselBaselSwitzerland

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