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Centre of African Studies: People


Lawrence Dritsas

Lawrence Dritsas
Dr Lawrence Dritsas
Senior Lecturer
Top floor 3.30 Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
+44 (0)131 650 4011
Research Interests
Science & technology studies, History of science, Colonial/imperial history, Decolonisation, global histories of science technology and medicine, Scottish history, Missionary Encounter

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • I am currently available to meet by appointment, please send me an eamil.

Outline Biography

Lawrence Dritsas began his studies in the United States (BA, Penn State; MS, Virginia Tech) and has interdisciplinary training in the humanities and natural and social sciences. He volunteered as a secondary school biology teacher with the US Peace Corps in Malawi in the late 1990s. In 2005 he completed his PhD at the Centre of African Studies in Edinburgh with a study of the scientific exploration of Africa in the mid-nineteenth century. He is a Lecturer in Science, Technology and Innovation Studies and a member of the Science Studies Unit.

Research Interests

Generally, the history and sociology of science in Africa. Within this large frame, Lawrence is interested in historical geographies of scientific knowledge in relation to colonial empires; the links between science, technology and development practices; the history of scientific expeditions (particularly the exploration of Africa) and the history of museum collections. He also uses his research to engage with the 'science studies of science fiction': exploring how histories of exploration and science fiction interact and shape how we think about the future of human activity in our solar system.

Current Projects

Principal Investigator: ‘Scottish collectors and collecting in central Africa, 1870–1930’ funded by Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. You can learn more about this project at National Museums Scotland.

Associate Researcher: 'Investigating Networks of Zoonisis Innovation' funded by European Research Council. PI: Prof James Smith. Currently writing articles on the British Colonial Office's Tsetse Fly and Trypanosomiasis Committee 1940 to 1960.

Selected Publications

'Tsetse Flies, Trypanosomes and the Organisation of Research in the British Colonial Office, 1942–1950' under review

2014 'An Archive of Identity: the Central African Archives and Southern Rhodesian History' Archival Science 14, no.1: pp. 35-54. (with Joan Haig)

2013 '"Pilgrimage to Chipundu": Livingstone's Legacies among Scottish Missionaries in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, 1950s-1970s' Scottish Geographical Journal 129, no. 3-4: 243-257. (with Joan Haig)

2012 'Livingstone, Natural Science and the Zambesi Expedition' in Sarah Worden, ed. David Livingstone: Man, Myth and Legacy. National Museums Scotland

2011 'Expeditionary Science: Conflicts of Method in Mid-Nineteenth Century Geographical Discovery', in Charles WJ Withers and David Livingstone, eds. Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Science. University of Chicago Press.

2010 Zambesi: David Livingstone and Expeditionary Science in Africa (IB Tauris)

2006 'Civilising Missions, Natural History and British Industry: Livingstone in the Zambezi', Endeavour, 36, no. 2: 50-54

2005 'From Lake Nyassa to Philadelphia: a Geography of the Zambesi Expedition', 1858-64, The British Journal for the History of Science 38, no. 1: 35-52

2004 'Treasures of Kew: David Livingstone, John Kirk, and Buaze Fibre', Kew, n.46 (September), p. 41

Current PhD Students

with working titles

Dayana Arriffin: Science in the Philippines under American rule

Daniel Thorpe: Aerospace in Nigeria

Sergio Orozco-Echeverri: Laws of nature from Descartes to Newton

Janelle Winters: The World Bank, Investment in Tropical Diseases, and the Road to Mass-Drug Administration: a case study of the onchocerciasis control programme (1974–‚Äč2002)

Past PhD Students

Vera Mugittu: Meeting the Social cost of Building Systems to Enable Innovation in Subsistence-based Agriculture: an Analysis of a DFID-funded Commercialisation Process of the Indigenous Poultry Inductry in Tanzania

Eva Hoffmann Computer Science and Higher Education in Afghanistan

Alli Coyle School Partnerships in African Development: exploring the contemporary relationship between Scotland and Malawi

Kevin Bardosh Public Health at the Margins: Local Realities and the Control of Neglected Tropical Disease in Eastern Africa

Dr Shishusri Pradhan From Green Revolution to Green Gold: the evolution of the Indian National Mission on Biodiesel

Dr Shaun Ruysenaar The Genesis and Anatomy of the Industrial Biofuels Strategy of South Africa.

Dr Annalisa Urbano Imagining the Nation, Crafting the State: the politics of nationalism and decolonisation in Somalia

Liz Ng'ang'a (The Open University) Scientific Leadership in Developing Countries: A case study of the Academy of Sciences for Developing World (TWAS)


Those interested in my areas of research may also want to look at the following taught MSc programme:

MSc Programme

MSc in Science and Technology in Society

Research Video

A video summary of my current research project is available at

Topics interested in supervising

I am happy to supervise research students interested in the history of science in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, particularly topics related to global history, exploration, travel, imperialism and colonialism. Please feel free to contact me directly.

If you are interested in being supervised by Lawrence Dritsas, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Science and Technology Studies