Weedy Science: Cultures of Herbal Medicine Research in Ghana

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Damien Droney
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 7, 2014 - 12:00pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


This talk provides an overview of my dissertation research, which describes the vocation of science as seen from the perspective of Ghanaian herbal medicine research. In recent decades, a vibrant herbal medicine industry has emerged in Ghana, attended by researchers ranging from formal professionals to self-styled scientists. Based on 20 months of ethnographic research, I identified four groups of people, each of whom had a different understanding of what it means to be a scientist. I explain this situation through a historical analysis of herbal medicine science in Ghana since the colonial period: The vocation of science in postcolonial Africa is shaped by its representation during the colonial and independence periods, when it was seen as a symbol of modernization and as a means toward achieving global equality.


Damien Droney's research is concerned with the science of herbal medicine and the subsequent growth of “neoherbalism” in Ghana. More broadly, I am interested in medical regulation and popular engagements with science in West Africa.

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