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Jules Skotnes-Brown

PhD student

College: Christ's
Supervisor: Richard Staley, Jim Secord
Thesis topic: Commodifying, cleansing, and conserving South African Nature: Field laboratories, Organisms, medicine, and animal-economics in 1890s-1930s southern Africa
Research interests: cultural histories of science and medicine, environmental history, science communication, African history, 'non-western science', museums and exhibitions

I completed my undergraduate education at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) in 2015, and graduated with an MSc in History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at the University of Oxford in 2017. I study histories of the life sciences in southern Africa, c. 1890s-1930s with a focus on the relationship between wild animals, pest control, agriculture, zoonotic diseases, animal conservation and industrialisation. 

My broader PhD project charts the development of an autonomous scientific culture in South Africa, and its role in shaping a new ontology of nature, c. 1890s-1930s. I examine how 'settler science' was utilised in maintaining control over borderlands settlements and nature reserves, through an examination of zoonotic diseases, animal and insect mobilities, cartography, and labour. I am particularly interested in how settler science, 'indigenous knowledge', and so-called folk biology intermingled, but necessarily complicate the boundaries between these forms of knowledge.

I have a side interest in videogaming, game-cultures, and the connection between colonialism and virtual imperialism. Here, I am also interested in the possibilities digital media provides for telling new kinds of histories.



Forthcoming, 2019. 'Colonized Play: Racism, Sexism, and Colonial Legacies in the Dota 2 South Africa Gaming Community', in Phillip Penix-Tadsen, Video Games and the Global South (ETC Press)

Forthcoming, Expected Spring (northern hemisphere) 2019. 'From the White Man's Grave to the White Man's Home: Experiencing Tropical Africa at the 1924-5 British Empire Exhibition', Science Museum Group Journal, winner of the SMG Journal Writing Prize 2018


Other writing

'Tsetse-fly case', University of Cape Town: Object Ecologies Project,



2012 Highest Grade Point Average in second year Bachelor of Arts, University of Cape Town 

2012-14 Class medals for highest grade in four courses, University of Cape Town

2018 Best Dissertation in Cohort Prize for my MSc Dissertation, Oxford History Faculty

2018 Science Museum Group Writing Prize for my article 'From the White Man's Grave to the White Man's Home: Experiencing Tropical Africa at the 1924-25 British Empire Exhibition'

Jules Skotnes-Brown