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Accepted Paper:

Governing transnational biomedical research: The biopolitics of extraction between Ghana and Japan  
Rebecca Carlson (Toyo University) Damien Droney (Oberlin College)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation examines collaborations between Ghana and Japan to argue that contemporary scientific research is premised upon a governmentalization of extraction. We show the ways these collaborations are productive of emergent social relationships, infrastructures and subjectivities.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation examines North-South scientific research collaborations between Ghana and Japan to argue that contemporary global health research is premised upon a governmentalization of extraction. Although many North-South research projects on the African continent are designed to ameliorate real or perceived institutional shortcomings and to redress scientific inequity, they often construct capacity in a relatively narrow and technocratic manner that elides the inherent political dimensions of biomedical research (Geissler and Tousignant 2016). In addition, transnational research projects often institute routinized practices through which materials and data are sent to the North for analysis or validation.

In this presentation, we show that while these research collaborations often do involve extraction to the North, this occurs in the context of multidirectional exchange of plants, people, bacteria, technologies and expertise. At the same time, these collaborations are not merely extractive, instead they are productive of emergent, if uneven, social relationships, material infrastructures, and forms of governance. We situate such extraction then as a global, multispecies biopolitical enterprise that involves both continuities with and departures from colonial and independence-era regimes of governance in Ghana. Our ethnographic research in Japan and Ghana reveals a governmentalization of transnational biomedical research in which Japan-directed ideologies of capacity-building form bureaucratic and routinized infrastructures of governance, which correspond with professional class subject-formation in Ghana that orients biomedical research toward extractive enterprises.

Panel P163a
Extractive governmentalities: articulating top-down and bottom-up views [Anthropology of Mining Network]
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -