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Social Anthropology: Events


EdCMA Annual Lecture: Pharmaceutical Hopes in the Shadows of the Dynamite Factory

EdCMA Annual Lecture: Pharmaceutical Hopes in the Shadows of the Dynamite Factory
Speaker: Professor Anne Pollock # King's College London
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Date and Time
8th Mar 2019 15:00 - 8th Mar 2019 17:00
Seminar Room 1, Chrystal Macmillan Building

This presentation draws from my forthcoming book, Synthesizing Hope: Matter, Knowledge, and Place in South African Drug Discovery, which is rooted in research at iThemba Pharmceuticals, a small pharmaceutical company in the outskirts of Johannesburg that was founded with a mission of finding new drugs for TB, HIV, and malaria.  I will use the physical site of the company, on the grounds of a historic Nobel dynamite factory, as a jumping off point for a broader exploration of the material and social legacies of extraction industries that shape the possibilities of and constraints on pharmaceutical industries. After describing the contingent, logistical reasons that the company was situated on this site, I will discussing parallels between dynamite sticks and pharmaceutical tablets, and between the historical development of dynamite and aspirational development of pharmaceuticals, with particular attention to the intertwined roles of capitalist entrepreneurs and state support for industry in building the enabling infrastructure for both. The South African economy and state has been and continues to be shaped by the mining industry, and pharmaceuticals provide a way to think about how South Africa might develop otherwise. I argue that at iThemba, pharmaceuticals become a tangible locus for hopes for building on technological legacies while moving forward from a violent past.

Freshers 2013