A study charges Western researchers with First World cultural imperialism
Science that Colonizes
A Critique of Fertility Studies in Africa
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Agnes Riedmann argues that the authority of First World scientists to penetrate the Third World for research has its roots in the 15th century idea of a "right to invade." Introducing "World System Demography," a global, bureaucratically administered science that is controlled by the First World elite, she analyzes three large-scale research projects that were carried out among the Yoruba in Nigeria in the early 1970s. She maintains that World System Demography, exemplified by such studies, is an agent of First World-directed cultural imperialism.
Charging that World System Demography is an extension of the Western family planning/birth control movement, Riedmann critically analyzes how even the collection of data ultimately promotes contraception. Using the reports of interviewers, she illustrates how Western assumptions conflict with those of the research population, and she discusses policy considerations.
Read a review from Canadian Journal of African Studies, Volume 32.1 (1998), written by Karol J. Krotki (pdf).
Maps and Tables
1. Introduction: World-System Demography and the Yoruba
2. Historical Prelude: Bringing Yorubaland into the World System
3. The Yoruba Fieldworkers: Emissaries of Bureaucratic Surveillance
4. Gaining Entrance
5. The Lessons Inherent in the CAFN Projects
6. Resisting the Lessons
7. The CAFN Projects as Exercises in World-System Demography: Policy Considerations
Appendix A: The Study Design
Agnes Riedmann has taught sociology and anthropology at the University of Nebraska and Creighton University.
In the series
Health, Society, and Policy, edited by Sheryl Ruzek and Irving Kenneth Zola.
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Health, Society and Policy, edited by Sheryl Ruzek and Irving Kenneth Zola, takes a critical stance with regard to health policy and medical practice, ranging broadly in subject matter. Backlist titles include books on the legal and professional status of midwifery, the experience and regulation of kidney transplants, the evolution of federal law on architectural access, and a political/ethical argument for making the community responsible for universal access to health care.