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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: 14 June 2021

Im/materiality of Pharmaceutical Knowledge Making

Im/materiality of Pharmaceutical Knowledge Making

(p.94) Five Im/materiality of Pharmaceutical Knowledge Making
Synthesizing Hope

Anne Pollock

University of Chicago Press

This chapter explores the flows between information and materiality in the day-to-day synthetic chemistry work at iThemba and in pharmaceutical science more broadly, attending to the bench scientists' routine movements between the computer room and the lab and to the informational and material qualities of chemicals. The chapter draws on the philosophy of chemistry, feminist materialisms, and articulations of the digital. It argues that although pharmaceutical knowledge can exist in abstract forms including diagrams of molecular structures and intellectual property, in order to become pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical information must be materialized with products and processes that are unevenly distributed in space. There is an essential gap between patents and pills that both intellectual property reformers and digital economy enthusiasts elide. At iThemba, efforts to “put themselves on the map” of global drug discovery were inextricable from the enabling and impeding elements of global transportation infrastructures. The chapter draws on interviews with bench scientists at iThemba to show that in iThemba’s work, the importance of “the map” was both palpable and reconfigured. It illuminates the challenges of building a “knowledge economy” through the necessarily material route of drug discovery and development.

Keywords:   synthetic chemistry, pharmaceutical science, information, materiality, knowledge economy, intellectual property, philosophy of chemistry, feminist materialisms, articulations of the digital, transportation infrastructures

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