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Modalities of Materiality: Peoples, Plants, and Patents in South Africa - Laura Foster

When: Monday, February 12, 2018
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM CT

Where: University Hall, Hagstrum - 201, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: FREE

Contact: Janet Hundrieser   (847) 491-3525

Group: Science in Human Culture Program - Klopsteg Lecture Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Hoodia gordonii is a succulent plant known by Indigenous San peoples for a variety of uses, including for food, water, and energy. In 1998, South Africa’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) made claims to knowing the plant as molecule when they obtained patent rights to Hoodia’s chemical compositions in the hopes that they, in partnership with Pfizer and eventually Unilever, could develop Hoodia as an anti-obesity product. San peoples, however, opposed the patenting of their indigenous knowledge.

Using a feminist decolonial technoscience approach, this talk examines how San peoples, Hoodia growers, and CSIR scientists made claims of attachment to different materialities of Hoodia (as molecule, as cultivated, and as from nature) to assert rights of belonging in South Africa through struggles over patent ownership and benefit sharing.


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