LUCAS is delighted to announce that Jekoniya Chitereka has passed his PhD viva. We congratulate Dr Chitereka for this fantastic achievement.
Dr Chitereka’s thesis is titled: ‘Big Science Politics and Global Development: The Case of Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in Africa’ and was supervised by Dr Alexander Beresford and Professor Melvin Hoare.
During his studies at Leeds, Dr Chitereka has been an active member of the LUCAS community, regularly participating in research seminars. Looking back at this period, he said:
LUCAS provided me a platform to interact with fellow postgraduate researchers working on Africa where we could share experiences. I participated regularly in the seminar series and the recent decolonisation masterclass with Prof Ndlovu-Gatsheni was extremely useful in helping me engage with the politics of knowledge production and provided timely support at the final write up stage.
Below is an abstract of Dr Chitereka’s thesis and further information on his work can be found here.
Big science projects such as astronomy and space science have been framed in terms of a linear relationship to development. In depoliticisation language, scientists link answering fundamental questions about the universe, building large research infrastructure in form of telescopes and technological advancement to discourses of development. Political questions of power are often suspended in this discourse and have received little attention, especially in the African context. This thesis brings to the fore these suspended issues or unintended effects of power, geopolitics, coloniality, dependency and neoliberalism which affect the projected impact of big science projects such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) projects in Africa. The thesis argues that the production of scientific knowledge and associated capacity building plays an important background role in the maintenance of dependency between the Global North and South. Science is not apolitical as scientists would portray but there is a correlation between science and power. The pursuit of big science is not just for the sake of knowledge generation and advancement, but it is an extension of influence from within states and beyond. The unique contribution made by the thesis is the use of different theoretical strands and disciplines, bringing them into conversation with each other to answer key political questions on science, technology, and innovation systems in Africa. The empirical evidence generated suggests a coproduction of big science and power and maintenance of scientific knowledge dependency in the Global South. In particular, the thesis unveils the side effects of big science development intervention and how ontological security is being built around big science at the individual, state, and transboundary levels.