School of Social and Political Science

Lawrence Dritsas

Job Title

Senior Lecturer

a handsome picture of Lawrence Dritsas

Room number

Top floor 3.30

Building (Address)

Chisholm House

Street (Address)

High School Yards

City (Address)


Country (Address)


Post code (Address)



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 Senior Lecturer in Science and Technology Studies

Lawrence is interested in the history and sociology of science in Africa. Within this large frame, he 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.



I am course organiser or contribute lectures to the following undergraduate courses


Science, Nature and Environment (STIS08007)

History of Science 1 (STIS08005)


Science and Empire: from Enlightenment to Decolonisation, 1750-1965 (HIST10434)


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

MSc in Science and Technology in Society


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

2017: 'Exploration Fact and Exploration Fiction' in Ed Finn and Joey Eschrich, eds. Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: a Collection of Space Futures (Tempe, AZ: Centre for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University).

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. (Edinburgh: 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

Research interests

Research interests

Science & technology studies, History of science, Colonial/imperial history, Decolonisation, global histories of science technology and medicine, Scottish history, Missionary Encounter

Current Projects

Scottish collectors and collecting in central Africa, 1870–1930 (Principal Investigator)

Funded by Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. You can learn more about this project at National Museums Scotland.

Investigating Networks of Zoonisis Innovation (Associate Researcher)

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.

Other Research Activities

A video summary of my current research project is available at: Research in a Nutshell

PhD Topics

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.

Find out more about the programmes that I am involved with:

Current PhD Students

with working titles

Janelle Winters: Constructing Success in Global Health: The World Bank and the Onchocerciasis Control Programme in West Africa

Kate Bowell: Narratives on Display: the History of Science and Technology Exhibit Labels at the National Musuem of Scotland

Completed PhD Students

Sergio Orozco-Echeverri: How do planets find their way? Laws of nature and the transformations of knowledge in the scientific revolution

Dayana Ariffin: American Imperialism, Anthropology and Racial Taxonomy in the Philippines, 1898-1946

Daniel Thorpe: Unbundling 'Indigenous Space Capability': Actors, Policy Positions and Agency in Geospatial Information Science in Southwest Nigeria

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

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

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

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

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)

Staff Hours and Guidance

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

Publications by user content

Publication Research Explorer link
Dritsas L. Exploration fact and exploration fiction. In Finn E, Eschrich J, editors, Visions, Ventures, Escape Velocities: A Collection of Space Futures. Tempe, AZ: ASU Center for Science and the Imagination. 2017. p. 105-113
Dritsas L, Haig J. An Archive of Identity: The Central African Archives and Southern Rhodesian history. Archival Science. 2014 Mar;14(1):35-54.
Dritsas L, Haig J. ‘Pilgrimage to Chipundu’: Livingstone's Legacy among Scottish Missionaries in Northern Rhodesia/Zambia, 1950s–1970s. Scottish Geographical Journal. 2013 Sep 9;129(3-4):243-257.
Dritsas L. Livingstone, natural science and the Zambesi Expedition. In Worden S, editor, David Livingstone: Man, Myth and Legacy . Edinburgh: NMS Enterprises Ltd. 2012
Dritsas L. Expeditionary Science: Conflicts of Method in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Geographical Discovery. In Livingstone DN, Withers CWJ, editors, Geographies of Nineteenth-Century Science. University of Chicago Press. 2011. p. 255-278
Dritsas L. Zambesi: David Livingstone and Expeditionary Science in Africa. I.B. Tauris, 2010. 256 p. (Tauris Historical Geography Series).
Dritsas L. Civilising missions, natural history and British industry: Livingstone in the Zambezi. Endeavour. 2006 Jun 30;30(2):50-54.
Dritsas L. From Lake Nyassa to Philadelphia: a geography of the Zambesi Expedition, 1858–64 . British Journal for the History of Science. 2005 Mar;38(1):35-52.