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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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Science for a Post-apartheid South Africa

Science for a Post-apartheid South Africa

(p.57) Three Science for a Post-apartheid South Africa
Synthesizing Hope

Anne Pollock

University of Chicago Press

This chapter focuses on how apartheid and post-apartheid legacies have shaped capacity and aspirations for drug discovery in a democratic South Africa. It opens with reflections occasioned by the 2013 death of Nelson Mandela, who had been a passionate advocate for science in the service of the people. The chapter analyzes the landmark late-1990s intellectual property case widely known as “Big Pharma versus Nelson Mandela” (in which the South African state successfully won the right to import generic antiretrovirals), in order to illuminate the challenges that the newly democratic South Africa faced as it became more integrated into the neoliberal global order. Then, drawing on accounts of iThemba’s founders, the chapter explores iThemba’s pre-history in international exchange programs envisioned as ways to build a local multiracial scientific workforce for the new multiracial democracy. Links with London and Atlanta offered ways to envision roles for South African science in fostering both implicitly nonracial global excellence and specifically Black success. Apartheid legacies created both conditions of possibility for bringing South Africa into the global space of drug discovery, and profound challenges. In the new South Africa, science should serve the people, but neoliberal imperatives presented obstacles to ambitious visions for building science.

Keywords:   apartheid, post-apartheid, Nelson Mandela, Big Pharma, generic antiretrovirals, international exchange programs, nonracial, multiracial, science in the service of the people, neoliberal imperatives

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