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Soc Stud Sci. 2014 Dec;44(6):848-73.

Places of pharmaceutical knowledge-making: global health, postcolonial science, and hope in South African drug discovery.


This article draws on ethnographic research at iThemba Pharmaceuticals, a small South African startup pharmaceutical company with an elite international scientific board. The word 'iThemba' is Zulu for 'hope', and so far drug discovery at the company has been essentially aspirational rather than actual. Yet this particular place provides an entry point for exploring how the location of the scientific knowledge component of pharmaceuticals--rather than their production, licensing, or distribution--matters. The article explores why it matters for those interested in global health and postcolonial science, and why it matters for the scientists themselves. Consideration of this case illuminates limitations of global health frameworks that implicitly posit rich countries as the unique site of knowledge production, and thus as the source of unidirectional knowledge flows. It also provides a concrete example for consideration of the contexts and practices of postcolonial science, its constraints, and its promise. Although the world is not easily bifurcated, it still matters who makes knowledge and where.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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