University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science > Guerrilla warfare as sampling: Amílcar Cabral, African independence and the writing of transnational history of science

Guerrilla warfare as sampling: Amílcar Cabral, African independence and the writing of transnational history of science

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  • UserTiago Saraiva (Drexel University) World_link
  • ClockThursday 18 February 2021, 15:30-17:00
  • HouseZoom.

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The paper follows the convoluted transnational historical trajectories of sampling techniques in the 20th century between the United States, Southern Europe and West Africa. It makes the case for acknowledging the historical relevance of statistics in imagining political alternatives to capitalist and colonial forms of relating to the land. Sampling first embodied emancipatory promises in the New Deal enabling the reform of American agriculture to serve wider constituencies and restore the land it relied on. The first part of the text explores the emergence of sampling techniques in the Statistical Laboratory at Iowa State University and the process through which the extended federal network of the United States Department of Agriculture made such methods into the watermark of a major experiment with American democracy in the late 1930s. The second part follows the trajectories of sampling out of the US into Southern Europe after World War II through the work of American experts that transitioned from New Deal agencies into FAO (the UN food organization) advancing statistics as the basis for European reconstruction under American hegemony. The paper ends by discussing how sampling methods learned by Amílcar Cabral in Portugal from UN experts and later applied in the agricultural survey of the colony of Guinea Bissau became instrumental for his role as leader of the guerrilla that would lead to the country’s independence in 1973.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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