Accepted Paper:

Innovation goulash: techno-medicine, nationalism, colonialism, and the market in magnetic resonance imaging development in the UK, India, and the US  
Amit Prasad (University of Missouri, Columbia)

Paper short abstract:

In significant ways, Eurocentrism undergirds analyses of the transnational scape of technoscientific research. This paper interrogates technoscientific Eurocentrism through an analysis of MRI research and development in the UK, the US and India.

Paper long abstract:

Innovation in science, technology, and medicine, particularly in the analyses of its transnational and global scape, often reflects a "west" versus "non-west" divide - science, technology, and medicine are shown to have developed in the west and then they are deployed in the non-west. At first glance the story of MRI, a cutting-edge medical technology, seems to be no different. In 1987, when the first MRI was installed in India, the US had nearly 900 MRI in use and General Electric Medical Systems, a multinational company based in the US, was a global market leader in MRI development and supply. Then in 2003 Paul Lauterbur, an American scientist, and Peter Mansfield, a British scientist, received the Nobel Prize for their contribution to the development of MRI. These simple empirical "facts" may seem to be telling reminders of techno-medical innovations in western and non-western societies. An analysis of innovation based on such empirical facts (which is not uncommon) is, however, also reflective of a reductionist and Eurocentric understanding of science and medicine. These empirical facts hide as much as they tell about the history of MRI. This paper shows how issues of nationalism, colonialism, and the market played crucial roles in MRI research and development. An opening up of the "black box" of science (and associated Eurocentric historiography) will allow us to understand the uneven and hierarchical topography of techno-medical research.

Panel IW07
Medical anthropology, Europe and the world