The African Eve Effect in Science

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.

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Adcock, Gregory J., Dennis, Elizabeth. S., Easteal, Simon, Huttley, Gavin A., Jermiin, Lars, Peacock, James W., Thorne, Alan 2001. Mitochondrial DNA Sequences in Ancient Australians: Implications for Modern Human Origins. PNAS 98(2):537–542.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. African Affairs 1948. The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. African Affairs 47(189):222–227.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Augé, M. 1975. Théorie de Pouvoirs et Idéologie Etude de Cas en Cote-D'Ivoire. Hermann, Paris.

  4. Austen, E. E. 1899. Report of the Proceedings of the Expedition for the Study of the Causes of Malaria: Despatched to Sierra Leone, West Africa, Under the Leadership of Major Ronald Ross by the Liverpool School of Tropical Diseases, July, 29th, 1899. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Collection.

  5. Behar, D. M., Villems, R., Soodyall, H., Blue-Smith, J., Pereira, L., Metspalu, E., Scozzari, R., Makkan, H., Tzur, S., Comas, D., Bertranpetit, J., Quintana-Murci, L., Tyler-Smith, C., Wells, R. S., Rosset, S. 2008. The Dawn of Human Matrilineal Diversity. American Journal of Human Genetics 82(5):1130–1140.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bonneuil, C., Petitjean, P. (1997) Science and French Colonial Policy. Creation of the ORSTOM: From the Popular Front to the Liberation via Vichy, 1936–1943. In Science and Technology in the Developing Worldpp. 129–178, edited by T Shinn, et al., Kluwer Academic PublishersDordrecht.,

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bourdieu, P. 1975. The Specificity of the Scientific Field and the Social Conditions of the Progress of Reason. Reprinted with revisions by M. Biagioli, The Science Studies Reader, pp. 31–46. Routledge, New York, NY.

  8. Bush, V. (1945) Science, the Endless Frontier. Report of the Director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development to the American President in July, 1945, United States Government Printing OfficeWashington.,

    Google Scholar 

  9. Cann, R. L., Stoneking, M., Wilson, A. C. 1987. Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution. Nature 325(1):31–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Bodmer, W. F. 1971. Intelligence and Race. Scientific American 223(4):19–29.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Cavalli-Sforza, L. L., Zonta, L. A., Nuzzo, F., Bernini, L., de Jong, W. W., Meera Khan, P., Ray, A. K., Went, L. N., Siniscalco, M., Nijenhuis, L. E., van Loghem, E., Modiano, G. 1968. Studies on African Pygmies I. A Pilot Investigation of Babinga Pygmies in the Central African Republic (with an Analysis of Genetic Distances)’. American Journal of Human Genetics 21:252–274.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Comfort, N. 2002. Review of the Nobel Prize in Medicine and the Karolinska Institute: The Story of Axel Key and Alfred Nobel, by Ljunggren, B. and G. W. Bruyn. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 288:1293–1294.

  13. Cozzens, S. E., Gatchair, S., Kyung-Sup, K., Ordóñez, G., Supnithadnaporn, A. (2008) Knowledge and Development. In The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies3rdpp. 787–811, edited by EJ Hackett, O Amsterdamska, M Lynchand J Wajcman, MIT PressCambridge, MA.,

    Google Scholar 

  14. Crawford, E. (1984) The Beginnings of the Nobel Institution: The Science Prizes, 1901–1915, Cambridge University PressCambridge.,

    Google Scholar 

  15. Drouard, A. 1999. Concerning Eugenics in Scandinavia. An Evaluation of Recent Research and Publications. Population: An English Selection 11(1999):261–270.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Elzinga, A. 1995. Traces of Eurocentrism in Current Representations of Science. VEST (Tidskriften för vetenskapsstudier) 8(4):85–96.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Escobar, A. (1995) Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, Princeton University PressPrinceton, New Jersey.,

    Google Scholar 

  18. Foucault, M. 1973[1975]. Discipline and Punish. Vintage Books, New York.

  19. Frängsmyr, T. 1992. Introduction to Swedish Science Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 95(3/4):166–170.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Grant, G. 2007. How the 1906 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was Shared Between Golgi and Cajal. Brain Research Reviews 55(2):490–498.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Hackett, E. J., O. Amsterdamska, M. Lynch, and J. Wajcman (editors). 2008. The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies, 3rd ed. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

  22. Hagelberg, E. 2003. Recomibation or Mutation Rate Heterogeneity? Implications for Mitochondrial Eve. Trends in Genetics 19(2):84–90.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Hess, David J. (1997) Science Studies: An Advanced Introduction, New York University PressNew York.,

    Google Scholar 

  24. Käsler, D. (ed.) (2005) Aktuelle Theorien der Soziologie: Von Shmuel N. Eisenstadt bis zur Postmoderne, BeckMünchen.,

    Google Scholar 

  25. Kay, L. E. (2000) Who Wrote the Book of Life? A History of the Genetic Code, Stanford University PressStanford, California.,

    Google Scholar 

  26. Lagerqvist, U. (2003) Pioneers of Microbiology and the Nobel Prize, World Scientific PublishingSingapore.,

    Google Scholar 

  27. Latour, B. (1999) Pandora’s Hope. Essays on the Reality of Science Studies, Harvard University PressCambridge, MA.,

    Google Scholar 

  28. Latour, B., Woolgar, S. (1979) Laboratory Life: The Social Construction of Scientific Facts, SageBeverly Hills.,

    Google Scholar 

  29. Latour, B., Woolgar, S. (1986) Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts, Princeton University PressPrinceton, NJ.,

    Google Scholar 

  30. Lind, E., Svensson, T. 1987. Early Indonesian Studies in Sweden. The Linnean Tradition and the Emergence of Ethnography Before 1900. Archipel, Annéö 33(1):57–78.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Ljunggren, B., Bruyn, G. W. (2002) The Nobel Prize in Medicine and the Karolinska Institute: The Story of Axel Key and Alfred Nobel, KargerBasel.,

    Google Scholar 

  32. Merton, R. K. 1968. The Matthew Effect in Science. Science 159:56–63.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Merton, R. K. 1988. The Matthew Effect in Science, II: Cumulative Advantage and the Symbolism of Intellectual Property. Isis 79(299):606–623.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Mudimbe, V. Y. (1988) The Invention of Africa. Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge, Indiana University PressBloomington/Indianapolis.,

    Google Scholar 

  35. Palladino, P., Worboys, M. 1993. Science and Imperialism. Isis 84(1):91–102.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Parker, I. 2004. Discursive Practice: Analysis, Context and Action in Critical Research. International Journal of Critical Psychology 10:150–173.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Ragouet, P., Shinn, T., Waast, R. (1997) Science for the South/Science for the North: the Great Divide? ORSTOM Versus CNRS. In Science and Technology in the Developing Worldpp. 179–209, edited by T Shinn, et al., Kluwer Academic PublishersDordrecht.,

    Google Scholar 

  38. Relethford, John H. 2001. Ancient DNA and the Origin of Modern Humans. PNAS 98(2):390–391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Retzius, G. 1909. The So-Called North European Race of Mankind. A Review of and Views on the Development of Some Anthropological Questions. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 39:277–313.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Rimoin, David L., Merimee, Thomas J., Rabinowitz, David, McKusick, Victor A., Cavalli-Sforza, L. L. 1967. Growth Hormone in African Pygmies. The Lancet 290:523–526.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Rip, A. 1992. Citation for Bruno Latour, 1992 Bernal Prize Recipient. Science, Technology and Human Values 18(3):379–383.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Ross, R. 1905. The Progress of Tropical Medicine. Journal of the Royal African Society 4(15):271–289.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Ross, R. 1913. Medical Science and the Tropics. Bulletin of the American Geographical Society 45(6):435–438.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Rossiter, M. W. 1993. The Matthew Matilda Effect in Science. Social Studies of Science 23(2):325–341.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Rotberg, R., Mazrui, A. A. (eds.) (1970) Protest and Power in Black Africa, Oxford University PressNew York.,

    Google Scholar 

  46. Said, E. (1979) Orientalism, Vintage BooksNew York.,

    Google Scholar 

  47. Soodyall, H., and T. Jenkins. 1992a. Mitochondrial DANN studies in the South African Indian Population. Gene Geography 6:127–137.

  48. Soodyall, H., and T. Jenkins. 1992b. Mitochondrial DNA Polymorphisms in Khoisan Populations from Southern Africa. Annals of Human Genetics 56:315–324.

  49. Soodyall, H., Jenkins, T. 1993. Mitochondrial DNA Polymorphisms in Negroid Populations from Namibia: New Light on the Origins of the Dama, Herero and Ambo. Annals of Human Biology 20:477–485.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Soodyall, H., Stoneking, M., Jenkins, T. 1995. Polynesian mtDNA in the Malagasy. Nature Genetics 10:377–378.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Sorlin, S. 2000. Ordering the World for Europe: Science as Intelligence and Information as Seen from the Northern Periphery. Osiris 2nd Series, Nature and Empire: Science and the Colonial Enterprise 15:51–69.

  52. Sorlin, S. 2008. Globalizing Linnaeus – Economic Botany and Travelling Disciples. TijdSchrift voor Skandinavistiek 29(1):117–143.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Stone, Linda., Lurquin, P. F. (2005) A Genetic and Cultural Odyssey: The Life and Work of L. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Columbia University PressNew York.,

    Google Scholar 

  54. Stoneking, M., Soodyall, H. 1996. Human Evolution and the Mitochondrial Genome. Current Opinion in Genetics & Development 6:731–736.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Templeton, A. R. 1993. The “Eve” Hypothesis: A Genetic Critique and Reanalysis. American Anthropologist New Series 95(1):51–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Wainscoat, J. S., Hill, A. V. S., Boyce, A. L., Flint, J., Hernandez, M., Thein, S. L., Old, J. M., Lynch, J. R., Falusi, A. G., Weatherall, D. J., Clegg, J. B. 1986. Evolutionary Relationships of Human Populations from an Analysis of Nuclear DNA Polymorphisms. 319 6:491–493.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alexandra Hofmänner.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hofmänner, A. The African Eve Effect in Science. Arch 7, 251–289 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11759-011-9160-1

Download citation

Key Words

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