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Synthesizing HopeMatter, Knowledge, and Place in South African Drug Discovery$
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Anne Pollock

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780226629049

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226629216.001.0001

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Hope in South African Drug Discovery

(p.1) Introduction
Synthesizing Hope

Anne Pollock

University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces readers to the distinctive place at the core of the book: iThemba Pharmaceuticals, a small South African start-up pharmaceutical company with an elite international scientific board, which was founded in 2009 with the mission of drug discovery for the treatment of TB, HIV, and malaria. This particular place provides an entry point for exploring how the location of the scientific knowledge component of pharmaceuticals matters, both for the scientists themselves and for those interested in global health and postcolonial science. Analysis of iThemba problematizes Global North/South divides, illustrating ways in which the worlds of scientists are not so neatly bifurcated, at the same time that it highlights how much is at stake in who makes knowledge and where. It follows knowledge flows and impediments, providing a concrete example for consideration of the contexts and practices of postcolonial science. iThemba instantiated a particular vision of science for a democratic South Africa, and the chapter argues that ideas about what South African science should be intertwined with ideas about what South African society should be. The name “iThemba” means “hope,” and the introduction meditates on the meanings of both “synthesis” and “hope.”

Keywords:   hope, synthesis, place, knowledge flows, global health, postcolonial science, iThemba Pharmaceuticals, South Africa, drug discovery, materiality of pharmaceuticals

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