Kaushik Sunder Rajan - "Pharmocracy" - Lisa Wedeen

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Kaushik Sunder Rajan

Kaushik Sunder Rajan discusses Pharmocracy: Value, Politics, and Knowledge in Global Biomedicine. He will be joined in conversation by Lisa Wedeen.

Presented in partnership with Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT).

At the Co-op.

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: Continuing his pioneering theoretical explorations into the relationships among biosciences, the market, and political economy, Kaushik Sunder Rajan introduces the concept of pharmocracy to explain the structure and operation of the global hegemony of the multinational pharmaceutical industry. He reveals pharmocracy's logic in two case studies from contemporary India: the controversial introduction of an HPV vaccine in 2010, and the Indian Patent Office's denial of a patent for an anticancer drug in 2006 and ensuing legal battles. In each instance health was appropriated by capital and transformed from an embodied state of well-being into an abstract category made subject to capital's interests. These cases demonstrate the precarious situation in which pharmocracy places democracy, as India's accommodation of global pharmaceutical regulatory frameworks pits the interests of its citizens against those of international capital. Sunder Rajan's insights into this dynamic make clear the high stakes of pharmocracy's intersection with health, politics, and democracy.

About the author: Kaushik Sunder Rajan is Professor of Anthropology and co-Director of the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory at the University of Chicago. He works on the global political economy of the life sciences and biomedicine, with a primary empirical focus on India. His recent book Pharmocracy: Value, Politics and Knowledge in Global Biomedicine (Duke, 2017), explains the structure and operation of the hegemony of the global pharmaceutical industry through case studies from contemporary India. He is also the author of Biocapital: The Constitution of Post-Genomic Life (Duke, 2006) and editor of Lively Capital: Biotechnologies, Ethics and Governance in Global Markets. Sunder Rajan is currently in the early stages of a new project that will study the intersections of health and law in India and South Africa.

About the interlocutor: Lisa Wedeen is currently co-director of 3CT. Her major areas of interest include comparative politics; the Middle East; political theory; feminist theory; and qualitative methods. Her publications include Ambiguities of Domination: Politics, Rhetoric, and Symbols in Contemporary Syria (1999); Conceptualizing 'Culture': Possibilities for Political Science (2002); Concepts and Commitments in the Study of Democracy (2004), Peripheral Visions: Publics, Power and Performance in Yemen (2008), Ethnography as an Interpretive Enterprise (2009), Reflections on Ethnographic Work in Political Science (2010), and Ideology and Humor in Dark Times: Notes from Syria (2013). She is the recipient of the David Collier Mid-Career Achievement Award and an NSF fellowship. She is currently working on a book about ideology, neoliberal autocracy, and generational change in present-day Syria.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op
5751 S. Woodlawn
Chicago, IL 60637