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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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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 16 January 2022

Questioning the Bifurcations in Global Health Discourses

Questioning the Bifurcations in Global Health Discourses

(p.23) One Questioning the Bifurcations in Global Health Discourses
Synthesizing Hope

Anne Pollock

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores what makes iThemba Pharmaceuticals’s mission of finding new drugs for TB, HIV, and malaria in South Africa distinctive. The chapter contrasts iThemba’s approach with that of the three most prominent discourses of pharmaceuticals and the Global South: access to medicines campaigns that aim to increase distribution of generic drugs; pharmaceutical research based on bioprospecting and traditional knowledges; and clinical trial research. Putting iThemba into comparative relief with these disparate sets of global health discourses reveals a common element among them: all three have an implicit reliance on a problematic conceptual bifurcation between Global North and South. They rely on an assumption that the most prestigious forms of pharmaceutical knowledge will be made in the North, while the South will be relegated to more circumscribed roles: recipients of generic drugs, providers of raw materials, and providers of test subjects. Whether these endeavors operate under a rubric of philanthropy or of science as usual, power inequalities are maintained and reinforced. South Africa itself is in many ways betwixt and between Global North and South, and this small drug discovery company’s mission helps to illuminate some of the limitations of pharmaceutical knowledge-making projects that take global bifurcation for granted.

Keywords:   Global North/South divides, global health discourses, access to medicines campaigns, generic drugs, bioprospecting, traditional knowledges, clinical trials, philanthropy, power inequalities, forms of pharmaceutical knowledge

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