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Journal Article

Social and public experiments and new figurations of science and politics in postcolonial Africa


Rottenburg,  Richard
Max Planck Fellow Group LOST, MPI for Social Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

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Rottenburg, R. (2009). Social and public experiments and new figurations of science and politics in postcolonial Africa. Postcolonial Studies, 12(4), 423-440. Retrieved from http://www.informaworld.com/10.1080/13688790903350666 %> http://pdfserve.informaworld.com/179252_758077663_917287594.pdf.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-9262-4
In this essay I argue that in certain contemporaneous African contexts the boundary between laboratory and life outside the laboratory is being transgressed in specific ways resulting in the emergence of novel forms of social and public experiments. The main focus of the essay is on biomedical research and its relation to health care, both of them being situated in a larger frame of biopolitics, recent reconfigurations of neoliberal regimes of governance, privatization of research, and developments in discourses and practices concerning human rights. The novelty to be worked out in more detail is not the boundary transgression between laboratory and the world outside of it, but the particular form this ubiquitous transgression is taking. I develop my argument in a critical dialogue with recent literature on global health, humanitarian interventions, therapeutic domination, and science and technology studies.