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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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The Afterlives of Hope

The Afterlives of Hope

Chapter:
(p.129) Epilogue The Afterlives of Hope
Source:
Synthesizing Hope
Author(s):

Anne Pollock

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226629216.003.0008

The Epilogue describes plural legacies of iThemba’s project. iThemba both was and was not a failure. Like most start-ups, iThemba failed as an incorporated entity. Yet even though iThemba was unsuccessful in discovering new drugs, it was generative. Following the paths taken by the scientists that have moved on from iThemba shows that scientific capacity in South Africa has been enhanced. iThemba’s story is also conceptually generative: a story of place and matter in pharmaceutical knowledge-making, as it is and as it might be. The epilogue reflects on iThemba’s trajectory through the narrative trope of the tragic hero to consider how this company’s experience can illuminate larger social, political, and economic orders. The same elements that created the conditions of possibility for building drug discovery capacity in South Africa also became powerful constraints: extraction industries remain dominant; science in the democratic South Africa operates on tight timelines; international interest in drug discovery is marginalized by global health discourses, which marginalize African scientists because Africans are framed as objects of, rather than as contributors to, global knowledge. Even as deeply entrenched inequalities continue to constrain efforts to build a more just global order for postcolonial science and society, hope remains essential.

Keywords:   start-ups, failure, scientific capacity, generativity, tragic hero, place, matter, postcolonial science, global order, hope

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