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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: 11 May 2021

“African Solutions for African Problems”

“African Solutions for African Problems”

(p.75) Four “African Solutions for African Problems”
Synthesizing Hope

Anne Pollock

University of Chicago Press

This chapter turns to the hopes that the bench scientists at iThemba had of participating in global science, not just as providers of raw materials or recipients of end products but as participants in foundational pharmaceutical research. Although the synthetic chemistry work that they did could conceivably be done in any well-equipped lab in the world, they articulated drug discovery in South Africa as rooted in place in three ways: connected with personal experiences of disease (especially malaria and HIV); an expression of commitment to democratic citizenship; and providing the possibility of working “at home.” Like the perspectives of scientists everywhere, theirs were rooted in their context. Unlike scientists in the Global North, however, they were highly aware of that situatedness. Whether they were South African or from neighboring countries, these scientists exemplified the promise of the rainbow nation at the bench, aspiring to contribute to science in the service of the people. As an elite multiracial group outside the malaria zone, there was some ambiguity about whether they were themselves “the people,” or whether they were “serving the people.” The chapter concludes with an argument for understanding the objects and subjects of science together.

Keywords:   place, drug discovery, personal experience, democratic citizenship, HIV, malaria, rainbow nation, Africa, situated knowledge, science in the service of the people

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