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Making Scientists for a Democratic South Africa: Postcolonial Contexts and Global Networks of South African Drug Discovery
Jul 18, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
Anne Pollock, assistant professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication, received a National Science Foundation grant. She describes her project regarding the production of science by and for the global South as follows:
In science and technology studies and beyond, there have been compelling calls for the production of science by and for the global South. But what does the process of creating African scientists look like on the ground? How do African scientists articulate why it matters where knowledge is produced? What practices and strategies facilitate the development of African science?
This project draws on ethnographic research at a small South African startup pharmaceutical company that focuses on drug discovery for neglected infectious diseases. It explores how the location of the scientific knowledge component of pharmaceuticals - rather than their production, licensing, or distribution - matters. South African drug discovery is situated in a very particular historical and political context: A relatively young democracy South Africa is diversifying its economy from an extraction economy to a knowledge economy. Deeply affected by AIDS and tuberculosis, resource-poor by global standards but highly-developed by African standards South Africa plays an important role in training scientists for the rest of the continent.
The proposed project also traces the global networks that train these African scientists, in a sustained way at the Emory South Africa Institute for Drug Discovery in Atlanta and at sites in the UK. The principal research questions address the micro and macro registers of these intersecting endeavors to build South African capacity in drug discovery, characterizing and analyzing:
- (1) micropractices and worldviews of African drug discovery scientists;
- (2) postcolonial contexts of South African drug discovery;
- (3) global networks of South African drug discovery.
One hypothesis, based on preliminary research, is that although the specific local context matters a great deal, creating scientists for a democratic South Africa is necessarily done globally, and that African scientists are in key ways more cosmopolitan than scientists in the Global North rather than less.