It was once not uncommon for histories of colonial science and medicine to draw on postcolonial theory. Today one finds many fewer such histories, despite the growing popularity of postcolonial science studies. This essay seeks to understand why and to make the case for expanding postcolonial science studies to once again include the colonial within its remit. It offers a history of postcolonial approaches to science and medicine from the mid-1980s to the end of the twentieth century. It then examines the turn, around 2000, toward studies of the present and near past in works on postcolonial technoscience. Perhaps ironically, the very suitedness of postcolonial approaches to our “globalized” present may have seemed to limit their applicability to the colonial and precolonial past. Finally, the essay looks to the future and argues that attention to colonial history would inform and improve contemporary studies of postcoloniality.
1 January 2017