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Collaborators Collaborating

Collaborators Collaborating: Counterparts in Anthropological Knowledge and International Research Relations

Edited by Monica Konrad
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 326
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  • Book Info
    Collaborators Collaborating
    Book Description:

    As bio-capital in the form of medical knowledge, skills and investments moves with greater frequency from its origin in First World industrialized settings to resource-poor communities with weak or little infrastructure, countries with emerging economies are starting to expand new indigenous science bases of their own. The case studies here, from the UK, West Africa, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, Latin America and elsewhere, explore the forms of collaborative knowledge relations in play and the effects of ethics review and legal systems on local communities, and also demonstrate how anthropologically-informed insights may hope to influence key policy debates. Questions of governance in science and technology, as well as ethical issues related to bio-innovation, are increasingly being featured as topics of complex resourcing and international debate, and this volume is a much-needed resource for interdisciplinary practitioners and specialists in medical anthropology, social theory, corporate ethics, science and technology studies.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-481-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Health Sciences, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Monica Konrad

    • Chapter 1 A Feel for Detail: New Directions in Collaborative Anthropology
      (pp. 3-39)
      Monica Konard

      The value of detail has long been central to the ethnographer’s sensibilities. As the art of suggestive possibility, detailing will give us the story to assuage a thousand disbelievers; the elements of consistency (or otherwise) to canonize the aesthetics of myth making; or even, as with Umberto Eco’s playful ‘Report on Field Research’ outliningLa Pensée Sauvagein a Po Valley society, the occasion for simultaneous readings and misreadings (Eco 1994).¹ Whether or not we want to tell all as it really happened, or indeed whether we are able to do so, most academic ethnographers today would concur that the...

    • Chapter 2 An Amazon Plant in Clinical Trial: Intersections of Knowledge and Practice
      (pp. 40-58)
      Françoise Barbira-Freedman

      Back in the mid 1970s I was walking with a small group of Lamista Quechua people in a then remote area of forest in the Peruvian Upper Amazon, mapping the expansion of their frontier cycle. At the time my new wisdom teeth were just pushing through and I can recall vividly the sensation of severe pain as a childhood filling fell out to expose a raw nerve. One of my companions, Eliseo, noticed my distress and went to collect a plant from along our trail path. He made a little ball of buds and leaves, like a coca wad, and...


    • Chapter 3 Substantial Transactions and an Ethics of Kinship in Recent Collaborative Malaria Vaccine Trials in The Gambia
      (pp. 61-85)
      Paul Wenzel Geissler, Ann Kelly, Babatunde Imoukhuede and Robert Pool

      This essay arises from observations around a clinical trial in Africa that we made as we moved from academic debates about bioethics into an African field site and back again.¹ Because of these different levels of observation, our essay contains an unresolved tension. In the field, we found close, kin-like relations and exchanges that differed from what formalised bioethics principles recommend as best practice, but seemed to work very well. This made us appreciate the point made by Lévinas, above, reiterated and put into a simplified ethical frame by Bauman, that ethics arises from an impulse situated in the encounter...

    • Chapter 4 Transacting Knowledge, Transplanting Organs: Collaborative Scientific Partnerships in Mongolia
      (pp. 86-106)
      Rebecca Empson

      In the wake of many difficult and uncertain years of post-socialist transition, Mongolians are increasingly forming new kinds of partnerships with international collaborators in different spheres, including biomedical science. In this chapter I focus on the biography of a Mongolian transplant surgeon to examine the kinds of ethical constraints and knowledge relationships formed through different kinds of emerging biomedical collaboration. Attending to the kinds of collaborations fostered by a surgeon allows for insight into Mongolian concepts of collaboration and ideas about the role of the individual as a heroic exemplar for the nation. Alongside these concerns, the paper questions how...


    • Chapter 5 Currencies of Collaboration
      (pp. 109-125)
      Marilyn Strathern

      Collaboration is a practice; it can also be summoned as a value. Whether or not collaboration in the second sense (an idea of rhetorical force) is read into collaboration in the first sense (an interchange implying among other things interdependency between agents) will depend on the relationships between those involved. There are obviously many modes of interchange between experts, practitioners, scientists, and not least anthropologists, and the diverse others in relation to whom they ply their trade, and all kinds of currencies of interaction can emerge for all kinds of reasons. Interchanges may or may not be marked as collaboration,...

    • Chapter 6 Collaborative Imperatives: A Manifesto, of Sorts, for the Reimagination of the Classic Scene of Fieldwork Encounter
      (pp. 126-144)
      Douglas Holmes and George E. Marcus

      In the first chapter of this volume, Monica Konrad indicates how inter-institutional collaborative forms might be prompting novel modes or awkward frames of social enquiry. In this essay, we want to discuss the virtues of such awkwardness in a case where a ‘third’ – Professor David ‘Bert’ Westbrook of the SUNY Buffalo Law School – entered our (Doug’s and George’s) longstanding discussions – call them a collaboration – about changes in classical anthropological practices prompted by our own separate and shared pursuit of research projects, our pleasures and frustrations in teaching graduate student research after disciplinary critiques of the 1980s (see, for example, Marcus...


    • Chapter 7 Building Capacity: A Sri Lankan Perspective on Research, Ethics and Accountability
      (pp. 147-163)
      Robert Simpson

      In October 2005, the thirty-third session of UNESCO adopted by acclamation the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. This carefully crafted elision of human rights discourse on the one hand and bioethics on the other resolves to set out ‘a foundation for humanity’s response to the ever-increasing dilemmas and controversies that science and technology present for humankind and the environment’.¹ The Declaration is but one instance of a powerful and rapidly diffusing model of bioethical awareness; what might be thought of as a global assemblage which manifests in diverse biomedical settings (Ong and Collier 2005). The model is carried...

    • Chapter 8 Global Clinical Trials and the Contextualization of Research
      (pp. 164-184)
      Ann Kelly

      At a pharmaceutical industry conference focused on the role of biomarkers² in early stage product development, participant recruitment in largescale clinical trials seemed an incidental topic. Indeed, Dr. Dennis Hurley’s talk – ‘Focus on Latin America: Practical Fast-Track Development’ – was strikingly disjunctive with mainstream papers describing pharmacogenomics, pharmodynamics, pharmacokinetics and other novel approaches to drug development.³ But for Hurley, thecontextin which research takes place is as important to the success of these innovative processes as the bioinformatics upon which they are based. He argued that while the relationship between pharmacological action and biological response can demonstrate how drugs are...


    • Chapter 9 The Performance of Global Health R&D Alliances and Interdisciplinary Research Approaches
      (pp. 187-204)
      Sonja Marjanovic

      Improving population health in developing countries requires a global outlook on healthcare that strategically embraces international cooperation. Alliances between developing and developed country institutions play a central role in research and development (R&D) efforts to tackle global infectious disease priorities such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, amongst others. No single player has the funding, research and delivery capabilities required to tackle the problems alone (see, for example, Cambridge International Health Leadership Programme Report 2004). The need for novel scientific understandings, and improved prevention, control and treatment strategies for global health priorities are high, but the resources and donor budgets for...

    • Chapter 10 Partial Lineages in Diversity Research
      (pp. 205-222)
      Amade M’charek

      Science nowadays seems to be best organized in projects. Big science endeavours, such as the Human Genome Project, have demonstrated that politics, business and laboratory science can be aligned to facilitate scientific collaborations on an international basis (see, for example, Kevles and Hood 1992). Many such technoscience projects perform and are performed through a homogenizing ‘grand narrative’ that contributes to what John Law has called ‘project-ness’. As he has it:

      This is the idea (which is also a performance) that many technologies and other social arrangements are properly narrated and organized as ‘projects’ … These are objects that are somewhat...


    • Chapter 11 Meeting Minds; Encountering Worlds: Sciences and Other Expertises on the North Slope of Alaska
      (pp. 225-244)
      Barbara Bodenhorn

      During the summer of 2006 I facilitated the interchange of a dozen young people, with various attached adult others, from three indigenous communities: Ixtlán de Juárez, Oaxaca; San Juan Nuevo Parangaricutiro, Michoacan; and Barrow, Alaska.¹ For a month students were based in Barrow, and were incorporated into scientific research teams, currently working in the Arctic, whose work is relevant to our understanding of climate change processes; they met with elders to learn more about local environmental knowledge and local history; they had weekly sessions with local language experts; they lived with families; and they participated in local subsistence activities. During...

    • Chapter 12 Recognizing Scholarly Subjects in the Politics of Nature: Problematizing Collaboration in Southeast Asian Area Studies
      (pp. 245-268)
      Celia Lowe

      This contribution toCollaborators Collaboratingwill address ethnographic specificities of transnational collaboration between US-based and Southeast Asia-based scholars collectively interested in society– environment relations. The present volume observes that collaboration has emerged as a focus for political and academic attention, and yet we know little about the specificities of collaboration itself. Are collaborations attempts to possess total knowledge of the kind many of us thought we had given up in the last decades? Or do collaborations broaden the possibilities for participation in knowledge production therein democratizing science? Of course both outcomes are possible – the answer demands specifics.

      Our volume asks...

  10. Afterword. Enabling Environments? Polyphony in 53
    (pp. 269-282)
    Monica Konrad

    Instead of a final conclusion, this short score of conversation is arranged polyphonically as one moment’s collectivized and anonymous interfacing. While it appears sequentially linear, the numbering is meant to be neither fixed nor pre-arranged. Rather, the conversational parts allow for a number of imbrications, taken from many possible re-arrangements of adjacents or betweens, which follow the tonality of heterochronous involution.¹

    1. Where does collaboration take us?

    2. Can we refine what the new language of collaboration opens up for social critique?

    3. I think we are exploring what an ethics of collaborative practice demands of us today as ethnographers...

  11. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 283-286)
  12. Index
    (pp. 287-318)