Making canes credible in colonial Mauritius
in Science and society in southern Africa
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Colonial scientific practices were fundamental to colonial political practices, and vice versa, even as science and politics underwent fundamental transformations. The case of Mauritius may raise new questions for southern African historians interested in the politics of scientific research. It was only during the depression of the 1920s and 1930s that peasants revealed that they, too, had the knowledge to produce and distribute new kinds of sugar canes. In 1937, when the social order seemed on the verge of collapse, the Department of Agriculture reached out to the peasants and disseminated sugar canes directly to them. Many Indo-Mauritian peasants rioted and nearly succeeded in shutting down the entire Mauritian sugar industry. The rhetorical and social practices of sugar cane science were especially complex in colonial Mauritius, where cultural and linguistic differences as well as economic and political practices tended to keep people separate.

Editor: Saul Dubow


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